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14 Naval personnel, 5 civilians arrested for alleged theft

By Akpokona Omafuaire
THE Nigerian Navy, NNS Delta, Warri, is currently investigating 14 personnel of the Nigerian Navy Ship for their involvement following the arrest of five civilian suspects nabbed for allegedly vandalizing oil-laden vessels in custody of the Navy.

The Commanding Officer of the NNS Delta, Commodore Henry Babalola, said that the personnel would be tried and sanctioned if found wanting in accordance with the Nigeria Army Act for alleged complicity in the crime.

The suspects, who were arrested after a tip-off for allegedly vandalizing the ships were on Wednesday, paraded before newsmen at the Naval Base Warri. The suspects included two ladies and three men, while other civilian suspects fingered are still at large.

The items were allegedly stolen from the oil-laden vessel earlier arrested by the Navy, which are under investigation with the EFCC. The vessels, arrested for allegedly illegal oil bunkering had been in the custody of the navy.

They were allegedly caught with several items, included a set of computer and accessories, marine equipment, pumping valves, scrubber diving kits and other items worth million of naira.

Babalola said that the items were recovered by the Navy authorities from spare parts shops in Warri, where they had been sold after one of the suspects led authorities to secure the arrest of others involved in the alleged theft. The Naval personnel on duty onboard the vessels that were vandalized are also in custody.

The Commander said that over 60 personnel of the Navy, who were earlier posted to man surveillance on the vessels during the period the theft was discovered were also quizzed and later release for lack of evidence. 14, however, are still undergoing investigation for negligence of duty and complicity in the alleged theft.

Babalola, yesterday, handed over the suspects to the Delta State Police Command represented by a Deputy Superintendent of Police, Mr  David Pam, saying that the Navy personnel directly involved would be punished after  they would have been court-marshalled.


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