By Godwin Oritse Geofrey Bivbere & Martha Akokhia
LAGOS—Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has arrested five vessels for illegal crude oil transfer and bunkering activities, off the coast of Lagos.
The tanker vessels, M.T Otakoy–1 and M.T Mariny were arrested early this month while three others, M.T Cape Verde, M.T Selueshing and M.T Adamas, were arrested few days ago.
NIMASA’s Director–General, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, who spoke in Lagos, Wednesday, said that the vessels were involved in illegal ship to ship transfer of crude before they were apprehended and are currently being detained.
Akpobolokemi said the crew on board the vessels had also been arrested while the vessels were taken to NIMASA’s guard Command pending investigation.
He explained that before the vessels were arrested, their communication systems were switched off, a development that got NIMASA official suspicious.
Akpobolokemi noted that some Nigerian elite had been discovered to be involved in high level criminality with regards to illegal bunkering activities.
He said: “They get crude oil from smaller vessels from Nigeria and transfer these stolen crude to mother vessels, with connivance from Nigerians. Besides, the illegal ship to ship transfer, there are other areas of off-shore high level stealing of petroleum products
“We must stop all legalities on our waters, that is a presidential order I just received and with the support of government, we will clear our waters of criminals”