Allegations of bribery against Naval Chief baseless – Navy

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The Nigerian Navy has dismissed the accusations against the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, as unfounded and without merit.

The Peoples’ Gazette, in a published report, made accusations against the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, alleging his involvement in disorganized bunkering of Nigerian crude and a fraudulent multimillion-naira contract-splitting scheme.

The report also claimed that Ogalla released numerous impounded oil tankers engaged in transporting stolen crude oil off Nigerian shores after receiving substantial kickbacks.

The Minister of State for Defence, Bello Matawalle, announced that an investigation would be conducted into the allegations against Ogalla.

However, the Nigerian Navy, through a statement issued by the Director of Information, Rear Admiral Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, refuted the accusations against Ogalla.

According to the statement, the vessels mentioned in the report, which were apprehended, were engaged in crude oil theft and illegal oil bunkering. It emphasized that contrary to the claims, these vessels have not been released.

The statement read, “The allegations that the Chief of the Naval Staff accepted over $170 million in bribes as well as alleged involvement in multi-billion naira contract splitting fraud in the last six months are untenable, baseless and untrue.

“Firstly, there are clear procedural requirements in the arrest, detention, and release of any vessel or persons found culpable in the maritime environment. It is not until these processes are duly concluded that such vessels are released to appropriate prosecuting agencies for further action.

“Indeed, all arrested vessels mentioned in the publication that were involved in crude oil theft and illegal oil bunkering are being investigated and none of such vessels has been released as alleged. ”

Ayo-Vaughan also said it was not within the power of the Chief of Naval Staff to award oil bunkering contracts, adding that only the NNPCL had such power.

“The CNS does not award or oversee oil bunkering contracts; the award of such is the sole prerogative of NNPCL.

“Also, all contracts awarded by the Navy follow due process in line with the laws of the Federation. The Nigerian Navy and her roles are an offshoot of the constitutional provisions and duly guided by extant laws and regulations of the land.

“The policing roles of the Navy empowered her to monitor the maritime domain of the Nation. These among others include the arrest of vessels that contravene any of the maritime laws and SPOMO Act 2019, ” he added.

He alleged that certain unarmed individuals, characterized as discontented elements experiencing the impact of various Navy operations, were attempting to smear Ogalla’s reputation.

Ayo-Vaughan further stated that these elements, initially confident that no one could challenge them, found themselves challenged by the Navy’s operations, leading to their resort to blackmail.

“The Service is aware of the coordinated frantic efforts to blackmail the office and person of the CNS by some disgruntled elements who are feeling the heat of the Nigerian Navy’s renewed vigour to fight crude oil theft and illegalities in the maritime domain as well as those who have in one way of the order shortchanged the Navy before now.

“Specifically, the continuous rejuvenated operations towards curbing oil theft has given the oil thieves sleepless nights hence the decision to engage in the malicious publications. It would be recalled that the Nigerian Navy recently launched OPERATION DELTA SANITY which provided for a holistic, more robust roadmap towards the reinvigorated stance of the NN towards the fight against crude oil theft and other forms of illegalities in the Nation’s maritime environment.

“Indeed, the NN is aware of these antics as it is expected considering the current resolve of the NN to engage oil thieves head-on. The cartel hitherto believed no individual could confront its ranks. Fortunately, the recent achievements of the NN in this regard have put them on their heels hence the resort to cheap blackmail through immoral and compromised online media publishers, ” the statement added.

He also assured Nigerians that the blackmail wouldn’t distract the service in their resolve to deny oil thieves freedom in the country.

“Pertinently, the NN will continue to ensure legitimate businesses in the maritime domain thrive seamlessly. Also, these distractions will in no way retract the NN’s resolve to confront these criminals who must be brought to justice for Nigeria’s economy to rebound. The security and economy of the Nation are greater than any group of persons that think they must continue to drain the country.

“Accordingly, members of the public are therefore enjoined to discountenance completely the malicious publication that emanated from Peoples Gazette because it is totally untrue and completely baseless being a figment of the shallow imagination of the writer, his publishers, and their unpatriotic sponsors,” he said.