…Hasty destruction of MT Deino and its cargo raises more questions than provides answers and has fuelled widespread fear of official collusion with the criminals engaged in oil theft
The National Association of Seadogs, Pyrates Confraternity in a renewed call to President Muhammadu Buhari to revisit the burning of MT Deino has demanded the sack of the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor.
The burning of the vessel by the Nigerian Navy after its arrest had elicited controversy and polarised stakeholders.
In a press statement titled ‘General Irabor’s Ignoble Defence of Impunity,’ the NAS Capoon, Mr Abiola Owoaje described Irabor’s defence of the vessel outside the ambit of the law as unacceptable.
“The National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) considers this defence of official impunity by General Irabor as unconvincing and defective. The reference to ambiguous and spurious “rules of engagement” is an untenable and unacceptable defence of the destruction of potential criminal exhibits and an illegal conflation of the roles of accuser and judge. It is worth emphasising that General Irabor has not made reference to any known law of the land which confers on the military the power to destroy vessels arrested for oil theft arbitrarily,” he said.
Owoaje, who pointed out that all officers of the armed forces involved in the burning have violated Section 111 of the Armed Forces Act said the “hasty destruction of MT Deino and its cargo raises more questions than provides answers and has fuelled widespread fear of official collusion with the criminals engaged in oil theft”.
While pointing out that the burning of the vessel with the stolen crude oil has added to the environmental degradation of the Niger Delta region, he stressed that Irabor can no longer be trusted with the war against oil theft.
According to him, relieving Irabor of his duties as CDS would allow investigation into circumstances surrounding the burning of the vessel unhindered.
Owoaje also supported the idea of building a tank farm to store seized stolen crude which can be sold on court orders to save the environment and generate more income for the government.
He said the case of burning of the vessel presents an opportunity for the government to demonstrate its seriousness to fight oil theft because “Nigerians would not accept anything less.”
The statement reads in part, “The National Association of Seadogs (Pyrates Confraternity) therefore demands that President Muhammad Buhari revisit the issue of the burnt vessel by removing General Irabor as CDS. His defence of illegality perpetrated by officers under him portrays him as someone who can no longer be trusted in the war against oil theft being waged by the Federal Government. His removal from office would ensure a probe panel to be set up to investigate the circumstances surrounding the actual burning of the vessel works unhindered to identify all the officers who were involved in the act for prosecution. We also seek full public disclosure of investigations into the identity of the owners of the vessel and immediate prosecution of the Captain and the crew of MT Deino to demonstrate the seriousness the Federal Government attached to the fight against crude oil theft.