Jonathan gave Chief of Naval Staff Vice Adm. Dele Ezeoba authority to arrest suspected bandits pilfering oil in the country. Presidential spokesman Doyin Okupe said Ezeoba's singular purpose was to stop oil theft.
"He said you must stop crude theft by all means, at all cost and you have my backing," Okupe was quoted by The Guardian (Nigeria) as saying.
Officials had said flooding, theft and corruption have plagued the country's oil sector, leading to a decline in production. Oil rebels in the south of the country, meanwhile, have attacked oil installations there as they fight for a greater share of the Nigerian oil wealth.
Okupe added that the government was frustrated by a report from Transparency International that gave Nigeria poor marks in terms of corruption. He said such reports reflect a general "atmosphere of cynicism."
Nigeria relies on oil for about 75 percent of its revenues.