A Coalition of notable Nigerians has submitted a petition to President Bola Tinubu urging him to probe the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, on the allegations of crude oil theft, contract splitting, procurement fraud, and corruption practices against the Naval Chief.
The petition which was signed by notable Nigerians human rights activists and lawyers in the country including Pelumi Olajengbesi, Esq, Comrade Deji Adeyanju, Comrade Mohammed Suleiman SK, Barrister Aisha Waliki, Esq and Comrade Ogunwoye Samson, calls for an immediate investigation into the conduct of Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, who is accused of engaging in large-scale corrupt practices.
The coalition, which submitted the petition to Tinubu through the Office of the Minister of State for Defence, Bello Matawalle, expressed deep concern over the alarming allegations.
“At a time when the country is grappling with significant revenue losses due to crude oil theft, it is distressing to discover that the Chief of Naval Staff, whose primary responsibility is to safeguard Nigeria’s waterways against oil theft and other forms of criminality, is allegedly involved in collusion with the perpetrators of these heinous crimes against the Nigerian state.”
The coalition outlined three primary areas forming the basis of their petition against Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla: oil theft collusion, contract splitting and procurement fraud, and corrupt practices.
Regarding oil theft collusion, the coalition alleged that naval officers under the direct control of Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla had not only participated in the theft of the nation’s crude oil but also provided security to the criminals.
They cited specific incidents involving vessels engaged in crude oil theft, such as the MT PRAISEL vessel, where the Nigerian Navy allegedly allowed it to continue patrolling the Nigerian waterways under the protection of Navy officers headed by Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla.
The coalition claims to possess evidence, including an authenticated video, showing the Nigerian Navy escorting the MT PRAISEL vessel during the night.
The coalition also highlights incidents involving the MT KALI and MT Tura vessels, where military gunboats purportedly belonging to the Nigerian Navy were seen protecting vessels engaged in crude oil theft. Furthermore, they mention the recent case of the MT VANNALARIS vessel allegedly loading crude oil illegally off Ondo State, with Nigerian Navy personnel preventing a private security firm from boarding or inspecting the vessel.
The coalition emphasised that the Nigerian Navy’s involvement in these cases of crude oil theft was consistent and alarming. They asserted that the crude oil theft persisted because the Navy, led by Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, was allegedly in collusion with the criminals, and the corruption could be traced to the upper echelons of the Nigerian Navy.
To effectively combat crude oil theft or reduce it to a minimum, the coalition insists that Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla must be relieved of his duties.
Regarding the allegation of contract splitting and procurement fraud, the coalition accused Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla of not only engaging in oil theft but also dipping his fingers into procurement fraud and contract splitting, in violation of Nigeria’s procurement laws, particularly the Procurement Act.
They provided specific details of 30 contracts awarded by the Nigerian Navy under Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla’s command to a single company, with each contract valued at $537,672.45, totaling over N8billion. Contract splitting, which involves dividing a single contract into smaller pieces to bypass procurement regulations, is expressly forbidden by Section 20(2) of the Procurement Act.
The coalition emphasised that engaging in contract splitting is a criminal offense punishable by a minimum term of five years imprisonment, according to Section 58(1) of the Act.
The coalition called upon President Tinubu to take decisive action to prevent further economic losses and ensure a thorough investigation into the allegations of corruption by the Chief of Naval Staff.
Additionally, the coalition alleges that Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla has failed to reassign personnel within the Nigerian Navy who are engaged in fraudulent activities. They claim that the Chief of Naval Staff benefits directly from these fraudulent practices and that the oil theft, procurement fraud, and other criminal activities are carried out by Navy personnel under the command of a corrupt Chief of Naval Staff who seeks personal gain at the expense of the nation’s resources.
In conclusion, the coalition draws attention to the previous investigations and prosecutions of serving and retired military officers for economic crimes against the Nigerian state during the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari. They highlight the lingering reputational damage suffered by the military as a result. The coalition implores President Tinubu to address the issues raised in their petition urgently, to prevent further irreparable reputational and economic harm to the nation.
The coalition submitted a well-documented petition that included an ample evidence to support their claims. The evidence was carefully compiled and attached as an annex to the petition.
The coalition said it remains committed to the fight against corruption and the preservation of Nigeria’s resources for the benefit of all citizens.