Two Britons and 10 Nigerians have been arrested on charges of trying to bribe a military officer to facilitate oil theft, the military said on Friday.
The two Britons, Vincent Hayward and Piers Eastward, work for a private security firm, Port2Port West Africa Limited.
Commander of the military Joint Task Force (JTF) on the oil-producing Niger Delta region, Major-General E.J. Atewe, said two of the suspected oil thieves, both Nigerians, had gone to an officer to request clearance to move the crude oil in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
They had openly admitted their plan was to hack into a pipeline and connect a hose that would siphon crude out of it onto a waiting boat, and offered him $6,500 to provide a gunboat to protect them on the way out.
“The suspects were immediately arrested for attempting to bribe the brigade commander for economic sabotage,” Atewe said in a statement, and a follow-up operation had led to the arrest of two Britons and another eight Nigerians.
Meanwhile, Port2Port West Africa has vehemently denied allegations against the two British security contractors arrested in Nigeria.
“Port2Port West Africa vehemently denies that its contractors were or ever have been involved in crude oil theft or illegal activity of any kind,” the security contractor said.
“We made the British High Commission in Abuja aware of this very serious incident on Saturday 22 March and we remain in constant communication with them and the families of our security contractors, who are clearly extremely concerned.”
Port2Port said they had been contracted by Nimex Petroleum to provide maritime security services from the Crete for a voyage from Warri across the Gulf of Guinea.
Nimex said it engaged private security as the vessel had been attacked by pirates on a previous voyage.
“Port2Port West Africa was contracted by Nimex Petroleum to provide maritime security services to our chartered vessel, Crete which was officially granted Nigerian Naval Clearance to load evacuated petroleum products based on an agreement between Fenix Impex (as seller) and Nimex Petroleum (as buyer) for a trans Gulf of Guinea voyage,” said Azmat Mahmood, Chairman/CEO of Nimex Petroleum Group.
“Through no fault of either of Port2Port West Africa or Nimex Petroleum, Port2Port personnel were subsequently arrested and falsely and incorrectly accused of wrongdoing,” added
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