A vessel, MT Praisel carrying crude oil suspected to have been stolen has been intercepted in the Koko area of Delta State by the Tanita Security Services.

MT Praisel was intercepted on Wednesday, while the 1, 117 tons vessel carrying about 8,100 barrels of crude, was being escorted by some naval officers.

Tanita Security outfit is a private security company owned by Government Ekpemupolo, popularly called Tompolo, an ex-Niger Delta agitator who recently got a contract from the Federal Government to protect oil pipelines.

Operatives of the Tanita Security said the vessel was flying a Togolese flag and was being escorted by a Navy boat led by a senior naval commander.

The Tanita operatives said they were met with resistance from the navy boat escorting the vessel, and that the naval commander threatened to deal decisively with them; but the private operatives said they refused to back down.

According to them, they eventually contacted the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu, and the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, who authorised them to inspect the vessel.

Upon entrance into the ship, the security company said it noticed that the vessel was authorised to carry products by the navy but did not have any approvals from Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.

The incident came on the heels of the outcry by the Federal Government that the illegal trade of stolen crude oil inflicts significant economic losses on Nigeria to the tune of N2.3tn in 12 months.

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