The recent discovery and subsequent burning of the MT Tura II vessel, also known as MT ALLI-RIZA BEY, have exposed a 12-year-long crude oil theft operation carried out by an influential oil cabal in Nigeria. The vessel, initially apprehended in 2013, disappeared from the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and continued its illicit activities under a new identity. The story unravels a web of corruption, leaked information, and a failure of security agencies to curb oil theft.
The Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited (TSSNL), a private pipeline surveillance company led by ex-militant leader Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as Tompolo, played a pivotal role in exposing the vessel’s illegal activities. Together with operatives from the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), TSSNL intercepted the MT Tura II, which was carrying an estimated 150,000 metric tons of stolen crude oil worth $86.8 million. The vessel was apprehended off the coast of Escravos in the Niger Delta region.
Despite the arrest, insiders within the oil industry and concerned citizens expressed their outrage when the authorities decided to burn the vessel and its contents instead of preserving them as evidence for prosecution. This action was seen as jungle justice and raised suspicions about covering up the tracks of the oil cabal involved in the theft operation. Legal experts argued that destroying the vessel could jeopardize potential court cases and hinder justice.
Investigations revealed that the MT Tura II vessel had a history of changing identities after each apprehension and resuming illegal operations along Nigeria’s waterways. It had been engaged in illegal crude oil bunkering for over a decade, transporting stolen oil to neighboring countries such as Ghana, Cameroon, and Togo. The vessel managed to evade detection and sailed freely from Lagos to the Niger Delta, suggesting possible collusion between the oil cabal and security agencies responsible for monitoring maritime activities.
The burning of the vessel sparked further debate, with environmentalists highlighting the potential harm to aquatic life and ecosystems caused by such actions. Critics argued that destroying evidence of illegal activities only serves to shield the oil cabal and perpetuate environmental devastation. Legal action was threatened against the authorities for the destruction and resulting environmental damage.
It is essential for President Bola Tinubu and the security chiefs to launch a thorough investigation into the re-emergence of the vessel, previously arrested in 2013 as MT ALLI-RIZA BEY and now as MT Tura II. Identifying and holding accountable those behind its illegal activities and the lapses within security agencies is crucial. Concerned stakeholders emphasized the need to avoid destroying evidence and to ensure a fair and just legal process.
The uncovering of the MT Tura II scandal highlights the ongoing battle against crude oil theft in Nigeria. It underlines the necessity for stronger collaboration between private security firms, law enforcement agencies, and the government to curb illicit activities in the oil sector. Only through concerted efforts and effective measures can Nigeria put an end to crude oil theft and its associated corruption, environmental degradation, and social instability.