Navy's Arrest and Parade of Tompolo-led Tantita Guards
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Politics - September 1, 2023

Navy’s Arrest and Parade of Tompolo-led Tantita Guards: Assessing the Implications

The Nigerian Navy recently arrested and paraded individuals affiliated with the Tompolo-led Tantita Security Service on charges of crude oil theft. 

This dramatic incident, occurring near the Itolu community in Lagos State, has far-reaching implications that ripple through the complex landscape of Nigeria’s oil-producing regions and security forces. 

In this article, we delve into the aftermath of this arrest as we dissect some implications that underscore the significance of this operation.

Escalation of Oil Theft Conflict

The arrest and subsequent altercation between the Tantita Security Guards and the Nigerian Navy spotlight the escalating conflict surrounding crude oil theft in the Niger Delta. 

In a statement, Tantita’s Ondo State Coordinator, Idowu Asonja said, “This afternoon, it happens that the Navy security initially was parading a wooden vessel loaded with crude oil, after a while, they released the vessel which was fully loaded with crude oil by some oil thieves.” 

He added that the “Tantita security guards were monitoring the matter and later bombarded the vessel after discovering that the Navy officers were paid to guide the vessel. This notorious act/display by the Navy officers provoked the Tantita guards in the area to pursue the vessel, which they later succeeded in arresting.”

This intervention raised questions about the extent of complicity within security forces. It also underscores the gravity of the oil theft issue and the need for more comprehensive efforts to combat it.

Security Forces’ Integrity

The clash between the Tompolo-led Tantita Security Guards and the Nigerian Navy questions the integrity of security forces operating in the oil-producing regions. Accusations of complicity and misconduct on the part of Navy officers also raise concerns about the effectiveness of security measures. 

The Tompolo-led Tantita guards noted that the owners of the vessel that carried the stolen oil came back to the scene with some Nigerian Navy officers working at the Dangote Refinery, which resulted in a conflict. Asonja said, “The Navy officers attacked my men, later arrested four of the Tantita security guards from the Ondo zone and set free the wooden vessel.”

While men of the Tantita Security have uncovered several hot spots for crude oil theft alongside the Nigerian Navy across the oil-producing regions of the Niger Delta, the recent altercation between both security groups questions their integrity. 

However, restoring public trust in these forces becomes paramount to maintaining stability and deterring criminal activities in the region.

Challenges in Crude Oil Theft Deterrence

This incident highlights the ongoing challenges faced by authorities in deterring crude oil theft. The fact that the Navy released a vessel initially suspected of transporting stolen oil, only for the Tantita Security Guards to apprehend it later, demonstrates the difficulty in tracking and preventing such illicit activities.

It emphasizes the need for enhanced surveillance and coordination among security agencies to curb oil theft effectively. Also, the federal government must introduce a tougher regime of sanctions and deploy massive resources to identify, follow up, and prosecute offenders.

Potential Economic Ramifications

Crude oil theft has severe economic ramifications for Nigeria, affecting both its revenue and global reputation. Experts say that Nigeria loses about 600,000 barrels of crude oil per day to oil thieves. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) however admits losses of 470,000 barrels per day. What this means is that much of the nation’s crude oil is stolen on a daily basis.

The NNPC estimated that about 700 million dollars worth of crude oil is lost to crude oil theft monthly. If the security services don’t rise up to their duty and nip this menace in the bud, the nation may experience more losses.

Operations of the Tompolo-led Tantita Security Service

The arrest and subsequent events put a spotlight on the Tompolo-led Tantita Security Service and its activities in the Niger Delta. In a statement, the Commander of Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Beecroft, Commodore Kolawole Oguntuga said Tompolo’s men were arrested while they were attacking a local from whom they tried stealing a boat engine.

It also hinted that it had initiated an investigation to unravel the circumstances surrounding the incident. While details of the news remain sketchy, the arrest questions the activities of Tompolo who had earlier claimed exposed security officials as being party to and protagonists of this criminality.

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