The Nigerian Navy, Forward Operating Base (FOB) Ibaka in Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom, says it has arrested eight suspects and seized 501 drums of illegal Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) worth about N35 million.
The Acting Commanding Officer, Captain Reginald Adoki, parading the suspects in Mbo Local Government Area (LGA) on Monday, said the product in the boat contained illegal AGO.
Adoki said the suspected illegal bunkerers were caught based on intelligence report in the early hours of Friday, April 5.
“The boat is suspected to be carrying illegally refined AGO (diesel). The 501 drums which gives you about 150,000 litres of AGO with estimated market value of about N25 to N35 million,” he said.
He explained that the Nigerian Navy intercepted the suspects converging the boat load of AGO brought in from Oyorokoto in Rivers, along the Calabar channel leading to Oron River with three Yamaha outboard engines.
“We had strong evidence that there was a case of converging illegally refined AGO, which have definitely been from broken pipes by way of crude oil theft because you need crude oil to refine and be able to get the illegal AGO,” he said.
Adoki described the act as economic sabotage.
Receiving the suspects, Mr Abdukarim Chukkoh, Zonal Head of Economic and Finance Crimes Commission, Uyo, commended the efforts of the Nigerian Navy for the noble job.
Chukkoh, represented by Mr Alex Ebbah, Chief Superintendent of Police, said that the culprits would be brought to book.
“We really assure you that we will do our best to ensure that for every crime of this nature, the suspects are brought to book and we will also give you feedback,” he noted.
One of the suspects, Victor Umana from Mbo LGA, said the urge to make a living led him into the crime.
He said he used to transport fish and crayfish from the beach side for small money, adding that he was offered N15,000 to bring in the AGO from Rivers State and was contracted to do the job through a telephone call he received.