Stolen fuel: Ex-minister, Ihenacho, to sue NIMASA

17 September 2012, Sweetcrude, LAGOS – CAPTAIN Emmanuel Ihenacho, former minister of Interior and chairman, Integrated Oil and Gas Limited, who was arrested by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, and later released last week over alleged involvement in the stealing of a ship-load of diesel, has threatened to sue the agency.

He told journalists Sunday in Lagos that he was abducted by heavily armed soldiers attached to NIMASA and Global West Vessel Specialist Limited, GWVSL, who invaded and shut down his tank farm.

According to Iheanacho, the vessel, MT Grace, alleged to have stored stolen diesel in his tank farm was given all the necessary approval by the Nigerian Navy, NIMASA and the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, before his company accepted to rent its storage facilities to the owners of the diesel.

He said Mr. E.O. Ilesanmi, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Danyomile Marine Services Limited, who are the owners of the vessel, applied to the Nigerian Navy to discharge the Automative Gas Oil, AGO, from MT Grace into the Integrated Oil and Gas Tank Farm.

The application, which was titled: “Application for Approval for MT Grace of
Danyomile Marine Services Limited to discharge 3,000Metric Tonnes of AGO loaded from MT RALB of Awaritse Nigeria Limited at offshore Lagos into Integrated Tank Farm Ibafo, Lagos,” was dated August 28, 2012.

The documents presented by him showed that the request was duly approved and signed by the Commanding Officer, NNS Beecroft, Naval Base, Apapa.

NIMASA, the agency believed to be behind Ihenacho’s ordeal, also issued clearance to the vessel via a letter No. 00010959 addressed to the Port Manager, Nigeria Port Authority, NPA.

The letter, which was dated August 31, 2012, was signed by NIMASA’s Director of Operations and Shipping Development.

The DPR, the apex regulator of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry also granted approval to MT Grace via a letter dated August 29, 2012 and titled:
“Clearance to discharge 3,000MT.” The Nigeria Ports Authority also granted approval to the vessel via receipt No. 0017826 of August 30, 2012.

The former minister maintained that his company was not the owner of the product or the consignee, adding that his company merely rented storage facilities to the owners of the products, whose identity is very clearly known.

He spoke more on his ordeal: “In the course of the invasion, I was abducted because if you say that I was arrested, there are people who have the duty to arrest. But if you don’t have the power to arrest but you have the power of the gun, you can abduct somebody. So, I would say that I was abducted and taken to NIMASA and there I was placed in a room and kept for hours.

“While I was there, the gentleman referred to as Tompolo and his associates visited the room to have a look at me and walked out. I was transferred from NIMASA to the office of the State Security Services, SSS, at Shangisha, where I was later released. It was a very stressful experience for me; being treated the way I was treated; being hounded in the way that I was hounded. But we thank God that we are alive to be able to tell the story,” he said.

Ihenacho described the armed unit at NIMASA as a private army being used for personal political purposes other than for the Nigerian maritime capacity development.

He called on NIMASA and the GWVS armed guards to release his five workers being detained and to also vacate his tank farm for the resumption of normal business activities.

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