The federal government has ordered an investigation into allegations of corruption against the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla.
Ogalla is accused of providing security for oil thieves and receiving huge sums in return against the federal government’s touted war against oil thieves.
A statement by the director of press in the ministry of information, Mr Henshaw Ogubike, the minister of state for defence, Muhammed Bello Matawalle, called for a thorough and impartial investigation to ascertain the truth of the claims.
He 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 allegations leveled against Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla are serious,” he said.
Speaking on the source of information, he said: “We respect the role of the media in fostering transparency and holding public figures accountable. 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.”
The minister assured that the Ministry of Defence would collaborate fully with relevant authorities to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the matter.
“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. We call for patience as the investigative process unfolds and trust that justice will be served in accordance with the rule of law,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Navy has described the allegations as malicious, baseless and false.
The director of information, Naval Headquarters, Rear Admiral Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, said the allegation that the CNS accepted over $170 million in bribes and the alleged involvement in multi-billion naira contract splitting fraud in the last six months are untenable, baseless and untrue.
He was reacting to a publication in an online medium yesterday following the federal government’s order to probe the Naval chief.
He said the service was aware of the coordinated frantic efforts to blackmail the office and person of the CNS by some disgruntled elements who were 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 or the order shortchanged the Navy before now.
He said; “The continuous rejuvenated operations towards curbing oil theft has given the oil thieves sleepless nights hence the decision to engage in the malicious publications.”
He added that there were clear procedural requirements in the arrest, detention and release of any vessel or persons found culpable in the maritime environment.
He said it is until these processes are duly concluded that such vessels are released to appropriate prosecuting agencies for further actions.
“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,” he said.
He stated that the CNS does not award or oversee oil bunkering contracts; noting that the award of such is the sole prerogative of NNPCL.
He said all contracts awarded by the Navy follow due process in line with the laws of the federation.
The director said the Nigerian Navy is an offshoot of the constitutional provisions and duly guided by extant laws and regulations of the land.
“The policing roles of the Navy empowers her to monitor the maritime domain of the nation. These among others include arrest of vessels that contravene any of the maritime laws and SPOMO Act 2019,” he added.
It would be recalled that the Nigerian Navy recently launched Operation Delta Sanity which provides for a holistic and more robust roadmap towards the reinvigorated stance of the Navy towards the fight against crude oil theft and other forms of illegalities in the nation’s maritime environment.