Former Minister arrested over oil theft

The former minister confirmed his arrest but claimed he did not know the reason for it.


A former Minister of Interior, Emmanuel Iheanacho, was on Friday arrested by officials of the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Punch Newspapers reports.

Mr. Iheanacho, chairman of Integrated Oil and Gas Ltd, was arrested based on reports that his company dealt in stolen petroleum products.

Officials of NIMASA were accompanied by armed security officials of Global West Vessel Specialist Ltd., a private firm handling waterways security as a contractor to the agency, when they went to arrest the former minister. Global West is believed to be owned by former militant, Government Tompolo, and has benefitted severally from contracts with NIMASA.

The NIMASA Director General, Patrick Akpobolokemi, also reportedly got his job based on the recommendation of Mr. Tompolo.

The maritime agency claimed that the minister’s company received stolen petroleum products from the vessel, MT Grace.

Mr. Iheanacho confirmed his arrest to Punch when he said: “some police and army officers working for Tompolo came here and sealed my tank farm. They also arrested me later and took me to the NIMASA office. I was there for a while.”

The Minister was later released on Friday evening.

Mr. Iheanacho, as Minister for Interior, was at the forefront of a campaign to introduce stiffer punishment such as the death penalty for kidnappers. At an “Emergency brainstorming session on kidnapping and national security,” chaired by Mr. Iheanacho, in August 2010 in Abuja, the then Inspector General of Police, Ogbonnaya Onovo, clamoured for a legislation that would make kidnapping punished with a death sentence.

Security experts at the conference however rejected the demand saying it was inimical and would not solve the problem.

A criminologist, Femi Odekunle, had questioned why the Minister and the police boss refused to suggest death penalty for corrupt public officials.

“Maybe it is because some of us here are more likely to be involved in corruption than kidnapping,” Mr. Odekunle said.

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