he arrest of four persons over an alleged siphoning of oil from a pirated ship is close to fueling a diplomatic feud between Ghana and Nigeria.
A source told CITY & BUSINESS GUIDE that the Nigerian media is set to launch a campaign against the treatment of the Nigerian interest in the matter, which as they put it, is a turf war between some powerful political elements in the country.
They have questioned, for instance, why the names of the suspects have still not been made public.
CITY & BUSINESS GUIDE has chanced upon an incident report by Master of MT Mustard‚Äôs Captain Olaniawo Olabisi, which speaks volumes about the incident.
There are marked variances between his report and what local authorities put out in the media.
Dated 22nd July, 2013 at the Tema Anchorage, Captain Olabisi stated that on 19th July 2013 ‚Äúat about 1600 hours MT Mustard sailed from Tema Anchorage after receiving orders from the owners Messrs Omaroil Agency Limited to proceed to 60 nautical Miles offshore Tema for a ship-to-ship (STS) operation with Motor Tanker AKA 1.‚Äù
On 20th July 2013 at about 0145 hours, the Captain stated that MT Mustard arrived at the STS position and communication opened with the mother vessel MT AKA 1 on a VHF radio.
‚ÄúWe could not proceed alongside the mother vessel as we had some water in our cargo tanks. We commenced discharging of the water from the cargo tanks which took us about six hours due to the cargo pump station,‚Äù he said.
At about 1205 hours on 20th July 2013 ‚ÄúI informed the Captain of MT AKA 1 that I was ready to go alongside for the STS operation to commence. At 1410 hours of 20th July 2013 MT Mustard was alongside MT AKA 1 with all ropes made fast and cargo hoses connected.‚Äù
During the STS operation, he said he informed the Captain of MT AKA 1 about his intention to send the surveyor on board MT AKA 1 for inspection before receiving the cargo.
‚ÄúThe captain of MT AKA 1 refused to allow the surveyor on board MT AKA 1 for inspection. I also refused to receive the cargo seeing as there was not going to be inspection.
‚ÄúAn argument ensued, which lasted for fifteen minutes and the cargo representative on board MT Mustard, instructed Captain Olabisi to go ahead with the operation.
‚ÄúAt 1530 hours, we commenced receiving product from MT AKA 1. During the operation, we observed the following about MT AKA 1.
The IMO Number was rubbed off and re-written unprofessionally. The name of the vessel was wiped off and renamed MT AKA 1.
The sailors onboard MT AKA 1 were not conversant with its equipment. The names on their overalls were covered with tapes. Some of the crew onboard were armed with rifles.
The captain said he decided to raise alarm on the observations he made because it was too late to cast off after the ropes and hoses had been linked.
During the operation, he said that a crew of the MT Mustard sighted the original name of the vessel MT Cotton written on a life raft.
‚ÄúAt 2345 hours on 20th July 2013 we completed the discharge operation and cast off MT AKA 1,‚Äù he said, noting that the MT Mustard arrived at the Tema Anchorage and dropped anchor at 1300 hours.
According to a report from the Deputy Minister of Information, Felix Ofosu Kwakye, four persons are being held over their involvement in siphoning of 3,500 metric tonnes of crude oil from a pirated vessel from Gabon.
A Daily Graphic report on the subject added that the piracy took place on MT Cotton, a Gabon registered vessel on July 14, 2013 by yet-to-be identified pirates.