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Oil theft: Navy hands over 61 suspects to Police in Bayelsa

By on September 25, 2013

6e7749fb14b13f89dc1440a33a60e87aThe Central Naval Command of the Nigerian Navy in Yenagoa on Tuesday handed over 61 suspected oil thieves to the police in Bayelsa for further investigation and prosecution.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the suspects included a Ghanaian and Cameroonian.

Also handed over was a suspect allegedly involved in illegal possession of firearms and protection of illegal refineries in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa.

Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) the Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral Sidi-Ali Usman, handed over the suspects to the Police Commissioner in the state, represented by an ASP Chris Nwaogu.

The FOC said the seven vessels impounded by the navy in the state’s water ways would remain in its custody until the matter was concluded in court.

Represented by the Command Operations Officer, Commodore Emmanuel Enemor, the FOC said that vessels impounded are: MT WHARF DALE, MV HENTY, MV TOBILOBA, MT EMMANUEL, MT PAULINE and MV. S.

Also T VICTORIA (Tug) and a large wooden boat (Cotonou) were arrested between July and September by the patrol team of the Forward Operating Base, FORMOSO, at Egweama Brass at various locations with stolen crude.

He said that oil theft and illegal bunkering were acts of economic sabotage.

“MT WHARF DALE vessel with an all Nigerian crew of six was arrested on July 6, for dubious intent to load stolen crude oil.

“All the crew members of MT WHARF DALE, including the Captain, had no identification cards at the time of the arrest.

“MT WHARF DALE had no ship log, thereby making it difficult for her voyage itinerary to be more properly established.

“MT WHARF DALE was engaged in oil transport without flag, registration, call-sign and International Maritime Organisation number, thereby constituting gross violations of international shipping regulations,” he said.

The naval chief said MV HENTY, which had a crew of five Nigerians and one Ghanaian, was arrested on July 25 for alleged illegal conversion from fishing trawler to a bunkering vessel with 132,000 litres of illegally refined diesel.

“MT PAULINE was arrested with a 10-man crew of nine Nigerians and a Cameroonian on Sept. 6 off Nun River for being loaded with 360,000 litres of illegally refined diesel without relevant documents.

“MV TOBILOBA was arrested with a crew of seven Nigerians on Aug. 24 at Akassa as the vessel was loaded with 100,000 litres of illegally refined diesel.

According to Usman, the vessel did not possess relevant documents such as licences and permits for its voyage.

The flag officer further said the local boat with all Nigerian crew of 16 persons was also arrested by its men on Sept. 15 off St. Nicholas River’s entrance.

Usman said the boat allegedly attempted to syphon stolen crude oil from MT LINA into over 386 drums on board the boat.

The naval chief recalled that the crew of several vessels were arrested by navy and handed over to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), EFCC and the police for further investigation and prosecution.

According to him, the efforts are to ensure that those committing economic crimes against the nation do not go unpunished. (NAN)