By Daniel Abia
It was¬†the end of the road for suspected crude oil thieves as the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder, Port Harcourt,¬†impounded a vessel laden with 13,000 metric tonnes of¬†crude oil suspected to have been stolen, off Bonny Island in Rivers State.
The Commanding Officer, Forward Operating¬†base, FOB, Bonny, Capt. Daupreye Matthew, told newsmen¬†in Port Harcourt, that eight suspects were arrested during the raid on Friday, adding that preliminary investigation revealed that¬†the vessel, registered VLIE Land, had no valid documents to operate in the petroleum industry.
‚ÄúParticularly worrying is the source of the product because the vessel did not have a Bill of Laden, and that indicates that the crude oil was not got from relevant agencies.
‚ÄúThe eight suspects will be handed over to the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) for further investigation and possible prosecution.
‚ÄúIn line with the vision and mission of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba, I hereby re-emphasise our zero tolerance and resolve to curb oil theft in the region.
‚ÄúThe Navy will not stop until it rids the region of criminality and illegalities in the Nigerian maritime domain,‚Äù he said.
Matthew said the fight against oil theft was the responsibility of Nigerians, irrespective of their class, to ensure economic growth and prosperity of the country.
He urged the people to continue to give the Navy¬†information that would lead to the arrest of oil thieves and pipeline vandals.
According to him, criminals should desist from illegality and seek legitimate jobs because the Navy will not condone acts that are capable of sabotaging the nation‚Äôs economic growth.
The acting Commandant of NSCDC in Rivers,¬†Mrs Christiana Abiakam, said¬†the command¬†would carry out thorough investigation to unravel the source of the product, adding that if found guilty, the suspects¬†would be arraigned¬†to serve as a deterrent to others.