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FG vows to probe oil theft, corruption allegations against Naval chief

Dr Bello Matawalle, minister of state for defence, has directed an investigation into oil theft allegations against Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, the Chief of Naval Staff.

A Saturday report had alleged that Ogalla was involved in a multibillion naira oil bunkering and contract-splitting fraud.

Reacting in a statement by Henshaw Ogubike, director of information in the ministry of defence, Matawalle said the administration of President Bola Tinubu has zero tolerance for corruption in the public service.

“Though these allegations might be mischievous, the ministry of defence is committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity and accountability within the Nigerian Armed Forces,” the statement reads.

“The allegations levelled against Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla are serious.”

He added that the investigation would be thorough and impartial.

“We respect the role of the media in fostering transparency and holding public figures accountable,” the minister said.

“At the same time, we urge responsible journalism that adheres to the principles of fairness, objectivity, and accuracy.

“Accusations of this nature can have far-reaching consequences on the reputation of individuals and institutions, and thus, it is crucial to avoid premature judgments.

“We remain committed to the principles of due process and fairness, ensuring that findings will be based on concrete evidence and legal standards.

“It is our collective responsibility to maintain the trust and confidence of the Nigerian people in the institutions that safeguard our nation’s security.”

The minister called for patience as the investigative process unfolds and trust that justice will be served in accordance with the rule of law.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Navy has denied the involvement of Ogalla in any fraud or shady deal.

In a statement on Sunday, Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, navy spokesperson, described the allegation as “unfounded, baseless and malicious”.

Ayo-Vaughan said the allegation is a coordinated effort by disgruntled elements feeling the heat of the navy’s renewed vigour to fight crude oil theft and illegalities in the maritime domain.

He said the allegation would not deter the navy from continuing the battle to curb oil theft and give oil thieves sleepless nights.

He said only the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), not the navy, has the prerogative of awarding or overseeing oil bunkering contracts.

According to him, there are clear procedural requirements in the arrest, detention and release of any vessel or persons found culpable in the maritime sector.

“It is until these processes are duly concluded that such vessels are released to appropriate prosecuting agencies for further actions,” he said.

“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.

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

“Thirdly, all contracts awarded by the navy follow due process in line with the laws of the Federation.”

Ayo-Vaughan said the navy would remain guided by extant laws and regulations, and discharge its role of monitoring Nigerian maritime domain and arrest of any vessel that contravene the law.

“Accordingly, members of the public are therefore enjoined to discountenance completely the malicious publication,” he said.

“It is totally untrue and completely baseless, being a figment of the shallow imagination of the writer, his publishers, and their unpatriotic sponsors.”

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