Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, over the burning of vessels recovered from oil thieves.
In a statement on Sunday, Falana said the action of burning of the vessel was a serious offence under the criminal laws of Nigeria.
General Irabor had stated that the vessel, arrested by newly-contracted private pipeline surveillance team, Tantita Security Services led by a former militant leader, Government Ekpemepulo, popularly known as “Tompolo”, was burnt according to the “rules of engagement” because it was an “instrument of operation” caught in the act.
But Falana said, “It is trite law that only the Federal High Court is empowered to order the interim or final forfeiture of any vessel that was used for conveying stolen crude oil.
“Therefore, the statement credited to General Irabor is a deliberate attempt to cover up the involvement of military personnel in the serious crime of oil theft as there is no provision of the rules of engagement that authorises military personnel or security operatives to set fire or destroy vessels loaded with stolen crude.”
Falana said the burning of the crude oil-laden vessel by military personnel is a serious offence which attracts life imprisonment without an option of fine under Section 111 of the Armed Forces Act.