Human rights activist and foremost Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, on Sunday knocked the Nigerian navy over the destruction of vessels loaded with stolen crude oil.
In a statement which was personally signed by him and made available to The Punch, the senior advocate fingered a statement credited to the chief of Defence staff, Lucky Irabor.
“Apart from the sabotage of the national economy the crime of oil theft has portrayed Nigeria as a nation where official impunity has been institutionalised that by the government.
Apparently embarrassed by the involvement of highly placed military officers and their civilian collaborators in the scandalous offence of oil theft the Federal Government has adopted measures to end it.
“Last week, a vessel loaded with stolen crude oil reportedly arrested by a newly-contracted private pipeline surveillance team, Tantita Security Services led by a former militant leader, Government Ekpemepulo, popularly known as “Tompolo” was set ablaze off the Niger Delta creeks by a group of military personnel.
“In an embarrassing justification of the criminal conduct, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor said that the swift destruction of the oil bunkering vessel by the criminal suspects is in line with “the rules of engagement.” As if self help has become part of the rules of engagement the General said the vessel was caught in the act and security agents subsequently set the “instrument of operation” ablaze, noting that no investigation is needed to carry out the action. It is trite law that only the Federal High Court court is empowered to order the interim or final forfeiture of any vessel that was used for conveying stolen crude.
“Therefore, the statement credited to General Irabor is a deliberate attempt to cover up the involvement of military personnel in the serious crime of oil theft as there is no provision of the rules of engagement that authorises military personnel or security operatives to set fire or destroy vessels loaded with stolen crude.