Navy, Tompolo Firm Clash Over Arrested Vessel
An altercation on Thursday ensued between operatives of the Nigeria Navy and a combined team of Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigeria Navy, and Tanita Security Service Limited, owned by ex-militant leader, Government Ekpemupolo, alias Tompolo.
According to a military source, the combined team of security operatives was on a routine patrol of the coastal waters in Ondo State when they intercepted a vessel suspected to be stealing crude from a wellhead on the coastal water.
It was also disclosed that the combined team approached the vessel but discovered that there were Naval officers on board the vessel.
The naval officers were said to have prevented the combined team from accosting the vessel despite “a request by the NNPC that the vessel be moved to the NNPC jetty at Oporoza for a joint inspection.”
The source said, “Operatives of the Tantita Security Services Limited, the Nigerian Army, and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corp have arrested a massive vessel in the coastal waters Ondo States.
“A suspected vessel was sighted off the coast of Ondo State while loading crude from a wellhead. A combined team of soldiers, men of the NSDC, and Tantita operatives accosted the vessel which had naval personnel on board. The naval personnel refused a request by the NNPC that the vessel be moved to the NNPC jetty at Oporoza for a joint inspection.
“The naval operatives on the vessel resisted the request insisting that the Navy was the one which arrested the vessel and was escorting it to one of its bases. The naval operatives have been shooting all day thereby causing yet another stand-off between Tantita, the Army, and the Navy. This has led to mounting anxiety as of the time of filing this report that the vessel might disappear without a trace in the dead of night.”
However, a statement by the Navy’s spokesperson, Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan
on Thursday, night accused the personnel of Tantita of being involved in illegal activities, adding that it raised a false alarm after the vessel was arrested.
He said, “Furthermore, it is believed that Tantita Security Service is involved in these illegalities because the Awoye riverine area, which is close to the place of arrest is covered by TSS. Again, it was upon the arrest of the vessel by the Nigerian Navy that TSS began to raise false alarms, totally unfounded and indeed mischievous.
“Nonetheless, the Nigerian Navy remains resolute in the pursuit of her constitutional mandate for the protection of Nigeria’s Maritime Environment for national economic development and prosperity.”