Managing Director of Florence petroleum and Marine servicese ,Dr Henry Okey Obi has appealed to President Muhamadu Buhari to bring the Rivers State Government and the Department of State Services (DSS) to justice for alleged stealing of his Vessel MT Okiko.
The businessman, who accused the Rivers State government,operatives of the Department of DSS and some persons of conspiring to stealing his vessel, wants the president and Inspector-General of Police, to wade into the matter and give him justice .
According to Dr.Obi, “the news of the disparenace of his Vessel was broken to me while in the United Kingdom(UK), on March 23, 2021, that some armed men led by Mr Igbiks Tamuno, a former Commissioner for Environment in River State, came and stole my vessel, which was anchored in a jetty at Okirika River state.My company Florence Petroleum Limited, owns the vessel, which is worth in excess of N600 million in the open market, was sold to Alhaji Usman Ilyasa, at N50 million.
“The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment Rivers State, Dr Nduye Briggs, also played a major role as he gave the authorisation for the sale of the vessel on June 26, 2021 after claiming he could not find the owner.
” It all started when the vessel, formally known as Mt Rex Condor until 2008, was bought by my company and rebranded it as Mt Okiki.The vessel, which was used for bunkering fuel tanker with Nigerian flag to offshore platforms like Nigerian Agip oil company in Brass, SPDC and Chevron, was involved in a fire incident on May 7, 2013,enroute to supply Marine gasoil to Agip Brass.The vessel was later salvaged and anchored in a jetty at Okirika River state where the company pays jetty fees to the community that owns the jetty.Obi Ever since then, the company has being mobilising funds to fix, repair and rebrand the vessel. The company has already finished the electrical installations on the vessel after purchasing marine and armored cables worth over £70, 000 from England.
“We have also done anti-rust priming and painting with zine oxides. We have equally purchased a new brand engine from the Netherlands, which is already delivered to a warehouse in Lagos waiting to be moved to the vessel in Port Harcourt for installation. All this efforts has cost our company over $500, 000.
“Upon getting the information of the illegal possession of my vessel, I informed the company’s operations manager, who wrote a petition on March 25, 2021, to the Inspector General of Police, who approved the investigation on the matter.
“The police invited the people involved in the illegal possession of my vessel, they procured forged documents including abuse of court processes, which aided their illegal action.A senior magistrate grade level one court judge, Justice O. Amadi, awarded the court order that the conspirators relied upon to persuade the River Statetate police command to discontinue investigation of their evil act. Discrete investigation showed that Magistrate courts in Nigeria lacks jurisdictions over vessel and admiralty matters, as a court order was procured from the magistrate court.
“The office of the Attorney General of Rivers State government was equally abused following a letter from the Attorney General of the state, signed by his special Adviser, Mr Chukwuma Eke, directing the Deputy commissioner of police, State CID to discontinue investigation of the matter, as his letter exonerated all the police invitees involved in stealing his vessel.He said the letter declared that all the conspirators acted lawfully.
” In spite of the letter from the Attorney General, Ilyasa went ahead and carcassed my vessel uninterrupted. He secured the services of DSS men led by one Mr Bashiru, who sent heavily armed DSS personnel that came threatening to kill anyone that comes close to the vessel.With the aid of the DSS men, they move the vessel to a jetty owned by Mr Abrakassa, who provided materials and wieders that carcased the vessel beyond repairs under the protection of this DSS personnel.Abrakassa used his white Hilux truck in bringing the DSS men to the site where the vessel was being scrapped on a daily bases.
“I instructed my lawyer to write a petition to the DSS headquarter in Port Harcourt in which it was acknowledged as they claimed it was a presidential taxforce that carried out the operation.I had to cry to the Force headquarters in Abuja, who then sent their men to stop this heinous act, but by then, they have carcased the vessel beyond repairs. When the officers from Abuja got to Port Harcourt, they took over the case from the state command to continue the investigation at the federal level. Alhaji Usman Ilyasa and his Co conspirators were ordered to stop scrapping my vessel pending the completion of investigation. Ilyasa has continued to openly flaunt his connection with people in power, boasting that he can get away with any crime and impunity he commits.
‘ I am calling on our president and the IGP to wade into the matter and give me justice”.