THE Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder has seized two badges loaded with 285 metric tonnes of stolen crude oil worth N50 million.
The Commanding Officer, Forward Operating Base, Bonny, Captain Hassan Dogara, said operatives of the NNS Pathfinder in Port Harcourt impounded the badges off Bonny Island in Rivers State.
Dogara, who spoke with newsmen in Bonny, disclosed that while 11 suspects were arrested during the operation on April 23, 55 out of the 285 tonnes of the crude oil were set ablaze.
He said the other perpetrators of the crime took to their heels before the operatives of the Nigerian Navy could reach them, explaining that the badges, which were filled to the brim, had some leakages and some of the contents spilled into the creeks.
‚ÄúTroops under my command on 23 April intercepted and arrested two-wooden badges containing an estimated 230 tonnes of suspected crude oil during a routine patrol of its area of responsibility.
‚ÄúWhile our operatives approached the scene of the crime, the perpetrators fled. But we were able to arrest 11 suspects afterwards, impounded five speed boats and five patrol engines.‚Äù
According to him, the Navy was currently taking custody of 230 tonnes of the product, while awaiting further directives from the Eastern Naval Command.
Dogara recalled that the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral UsmanJubrin, had ordered strategic deployment of troops on the nation‚Äôs waterways with a view to putting an end to oil theft and sea piracy.
He said based on the directive, the navy would continue to conduct 24-hour surveillance on the waterways in order to stop illegalities within the coastal areas.
In another development, the Nigerian Navy on Monday, handed over a merchant vessel, MT Good Success, loaded with 1,940 metric tonnes of petrol to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The vessel was arrested by the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS), Andoni, ordered by Captain ChidiOkpala, in Lagos, after it was discovered that the vessel contained 1,940 metric tonnes of petrol instead of the 350 metric tonnes of AGO it was licensed to load.
During the hand over, the Commander NNS BEECROFT, Commodore OvenseriUwadiae, said after the Navy‚Äôs preliminary investigation, a prima facie case was established against the vessel and in line with extant provisions. He said naval headquarters in Abuja gave directives to handover the vessel to the EFCC for further investigation and prosecution.
‚ÄúMT Good Success has clearannce to carry 350 metric tonnes of AGO, but upon arrest by NNS Andoni, it was discovered that instead of the AGO it was cleared to carry, the vessel had 1,940 metric tonnes of PMS.
‚ÄúThe conditions for clearance for AGO and PMS are not the same because of the subsidy regime in place for PMS and so the ship was impounded. We are using this opportunity to warn members of the public that the game is over.
‚ÄúThe years when illegalities thrived in our maritime domain are over. People must follow due process and ensure they have documents to back their dealings because the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral UsmanJibrin, has mandated us to ensure the law takes its full course on those found wanting,‚Äù he said.
Although the vessel and its content would be kept in the navy‚Äôs custody as requested by the EFCC, Uwadiae said the commission should ensure that a letter was written to that effect, so that it would be clearly stated that the Navy was keeping the vessel for EFCC.
EFCC‚Äôs Counter Terrorism and General Investigation boss, AminuAliyu, said the agency would commence investigation.