Officials in charge of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) BEECROFT, yesterday averted a situation, which could have resulted into a bloody fracas between its personnel and guards attached to Topline Security at Idi-Mongoro area of Atlas Cove, Lagos State.
The Federal Government had in 2014 awarded the contract of securing pipelines belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to Topline, a private security firm.
The fracas erupted between Naval personnel and some security men from Topline over who takes custody of over 3,000 jerry-cans filed with petroleum products recovered from suspected vandals. The products were said to have been siphoned by suspected vandals from NNPC pipelines that runs from Atlas Cove, Apapa to Ejigbo and Mosimi depots in Lagos and Ogun State.
While the navy is accusing the security men of allegedly conniving with vandals to steal products, Topline officials said they impounded the products from criminals on Sunday. The guards alleged that as at the time the products were recovered, they where being conveyed in five vehicles to an unknown destination.
Commander of NNS BEECROFT, Commodore Okon Eyo, while addressing newsmen on the issue said the navy was going to meet with the management of NNPC to review the terms of engagement it has with Topline Security. Eyo said the navy was also going to ascertain if they are allowed to carry guns.
He said; “You must have heard of what happened at Ibeshe, a riverine community that play host to an important NNPC facility with regards to personnel of Topline security who claimed to have been awarded the contract of protecting the pipeline that runs from Atlas Cove through Satellite Town to Ejigbo, Mosimi, Ilorin and other parts of the country, and the shameless attitude which their personnel put up. They were apparently trying to provoke the navy into taking actions, but ours is not to endanger the lives of citizens.
“They say they have contract to secure the pipeline. We are going to meet with the management of NNPC to review the contract terms. We also saw that they are carrying guns, we will ascertain if they are allowed to carry arms. The way they appeared today shows that they are not trained to carry guns.”
He said the navy had conducted an aerial operation yesterday during which they sighted over 3,000 jerry-cans loaded in vehicles. He said with the aerial view, the navy decided to move in to ascertain the activities and that the end of it was untold provocation.
But in a swift reaction, the security supervisor, who identified himself as Tiamiyu Jeremiah, aka JJ, accused the navy of aiding the vandals. He said the navy collects money from vandals so that they would be allowed to siphon petroleum products.
Managing Director of Topline Security, Mr. Aminu King, told The Guardian that his company was answerable to the NNPC and not the navy.
“My officials arrested jerry-cans loaded with petroleum products and the navy started demanding to take possession of the products. What right do they have to take the products? We are mandated to hand over such seized products to NNPC and not the navy,” King said.