By Godfrey Bivbere
THE Nigerian Navy has handed over two Ghanaians, seven Sri-Lankans and 57 Nigerians suspected to be involved in oil bunkering to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Seven vessels were also arrested by the Nigerian Navy between December 3 and 30, 2019. The affected vessels involved in the oil bunkering have no valid approval.
READ ALSOYola high court orders IGP, Interpol to produce Diezani Madueke in court(Opens in a new browser tab)
Addressing newsmen after the handing over to the EFCC, the Commandant of NN ship, NNS BEECROFT, Commodore Ibrahim Shettima, said that the nation would have lost N906 million, if the culprits had been successful in their operation.
He said: “This (arrest) has prevented a huge potential loss of petroleum products for the nation. These illegal activities are the work of unpatriotic and criminally minded Nigerians and their collaborators.
The commandant gave the names of the seven vessels as: MV TIM BEGELE, which was laden with 381 metric tonnes of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) and was arrested on December 3. Others are MT ZEEBRUGGE, which had 838 metric tonnes of crude oil and was arrested on December12; MT JONKO, arrested on December 21 and had 1,077 metric tonnes; MV EKPERE AMAKA was arrested on December 25 and with 85 metric tonnes AGO.
Also, MV ELLA, which had one Ghanaian and six Nigerians on board was arrested on December 27 carrying 100 metric tonnes of AGO. Similarly, MT IBIM, which was arrested on December 27 was laden with 840.5 metric tonnes of crude oil and had a crew of 14 Nigerians on board.
MV LAIDA with one Ghanaian and seven Nigerians as its crew members was arrested on December 30 carrying 180 metric tonnes of AGO.
Shettima said that after diligent interrogation and investigation, most of the vessels were en route neighbouring countries, with their illegally acquired products. He added that, specifically, four vessels were going to Ghana, while two were going to Togo.
The Navy commandant warned criminals to desist from their acts by pursuing lawful means of livelihood, adding that the Navy would not spare any illegality.
“The NN has the range and reach to pounce on them any day, anytime. We also want to use this medium to reassure our neighbouring countries that we will continue to collaborate and work with them in fighting this menace,” he said.
He said that the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) was determined to extend the fight against illegally acquired crude and its products from the creeks to the high sea.
Recently, NNS BEECROFT conducted various raids on Atlas Cove Island, which houses a critical national energy asset.
During the raids, about 250,000 of 25 litres of jerry cans used for illegal siphoning of PMS were recovered and destroyed.
Shettima said that the arrest was part of the CNS strategic guidance to increase the operational potency of the Nigerian Navy in curbing illegal activities within Nigeria’s maritime environment.