The Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) BEECROFT have apprehended four individuals for their alleged involvement in an attempt to smuggle approximately 11,000 liters of suspected stolen crude oil into Lagos. The detainees, reportedly affiliated with Tantita Security Limited, have been identified as Asonja Goddey (28), Obajimi Oluwaseyifunmi (38), Awoowo Aribo (35), and Oluwadaisi Balogun (40).
Their arrest took place on August 29 in the vicinity of Itolu community, Ibeju Lekki, along the waterways.
In addition to the four apprehended suspects, the Chief Security Officer (CSO), Owoyele Omotuyi, was also taken into custody by the navy. Omotuyi had attempted to secure the release of the detainees on bail.
The Nigerian Navy’s intervention was prompted by a distress call from residents of the Itolu community. The residents had reported sounds of gunfire and the alleged hijacking of an outboard engine boat owned by Ishola Ojubuyi (42). Acting swiftly in response to the distress call, the Forward Operating Base (FOB) Lekki dispatched personnel who subsequently arrested the four suspects. The individuals were found wearing black TANTITA-branded t-shirts.
According to Commodore Kolawole Oguntuga, the Commander of NNS BEECROFT, the suspects were in the process of recovering a disassembled outboard engine from a local individual. Upon the apprehension of these four Tantita employees, the patrol team made a further discovery. They realized that the detainees were connected to the movement of a large wooden boat accompanied by two fiber boats.
The suspects, along with the recovered materials, were presented to the public during a parade at Apapa. Oguntuga emphasized the prompt action taken by his team in response to the distress call and highlighted the circumstances leading to the arrests of the four individuals.
“The four arrested individuals beckoned on the two fiber boats to approach them but when they noticed NN patrol teams, the boats altered courses, fled and abandoned the large wooden boat laden with 11 x 1000L Geepee tanks with products suspected to be stolen crude oil.
“The Nigerian Navy has initiated an investigation to unravel the circumstances surrounding the incident particularly the possession of firearms used in the community, economic sabotage, how the product came from Ondo to Lagos state as well as attempting to steal a boat engine from the locals.
“One Mr Owoyele Omotuyi, who was identified as a Tantita staff, came to secure the release of the four apprehended, claiming they are Tantita employees.
“All suspects along with the confiscated exhibits, will be handed over to appropriate agencies for further necessary action and prosecution.
“The Nigerian Navy under the watch of Vice Admiral EI Ogalla, Chief of the Naval Staff, remains resolute towards ensuring the maritime environment is conducive for legitimate businesses necessary for economic prosperity of the nation,” he said.
In response to the arrest, the Coordinator of TANTITA in Ondo State, Chief Idowu Asonja, issued a statement asserting that the detained individuals were not engaged in the criminal activity, but rather had intercepted the wooden boats. He expressed deep concern and dismay over the arrest of these individuals, and he alleged that the navy had initially showcased the boat publicly but subsequently released it.
Nevertheless, one of the individuals paraded as suspects recounted to journalists that they were involved in an illicit operation.
He further disclosed that certain personnel from the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) were accompanying them, but these individuals fled upon spotting the naval officers approaching.