For 11 Nigerians and a Camerounian suspected of oil theft, the day of justice is approaching. The end of the road in their nefarious activities came recently when officials of the Nigerian Navy intercepted their boat and arrested them for allegedly stealing 10,000 litres of illegally refined diesel off the waterways of the Egweama community in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
With preliminary investigations concluded to determine their culpability or otherwise, the suspects have now being handed over to the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) for further investigations and possible trial for crime against the nation’s economy.
Handing over the men, the Command Operation Officer of the Central Naval Command, Commodore Emmanuel Enemor, said the vessel was arrested off the Brass River entrance on May 16 by the Nigerian Navy Patrol Team from its Forward Operating Base (FOB), NSS FORMOSO, located in Egweama.
“The MV Sea Giant operates under the business name and licence of MOEN Marine Limited located on Victoria Island in Lagos,” he added.
He handed over the crew of the seized vessel to an EFCC official, Ogbu Chinedu Michael, a Deputy Detective Superintendent (DDS). He explained that though the suspects claimed the petroleum products on the vessel was for running the engines, laboratory analysis showed that the product was illegally refined diesel.
The vessel laden with the product allegedly possessed no ship log or an NPA bunkering permit and certificate of registration with the Joint Military Task Force code named Operation Pulo Shield, he said.
He identified the Camerounian suspect as the captain of the seized vessel.
“The captain confessed during interrogation that the vessel came from Lagos to load AGO from a barge at Agbara offshore,” he said.
The navy lamented the activities of oil thieves operating in the Niger Delta, which it said has continued to rise despite the wave of arrests of both vessels involved in the illegal activities and suspects.
It identified the Brass-Akassa corridor of the Nigerian waterways as the most notorious in the Gulf of Guinea area for oil theft.
According to him, the arrest and many others recorded by the navy is due to its unrelenting efforts to wipe out illegal activities and criminalities in the maritime environment.
Information from This Day was used in this report.