Abuja - The Central Naval Command has arrested 12 suspects and seized more than 1 000 litres of oil in Bayelsa State.
Among those arrested were three Ghanaian nationals.
The owner of the seized oil vessel was said to be a Port Harcourt-based businessman identified as John George.
Naval operatives attached to the Forward Operating Base of the Navy, known as FORMOSO, effected the arrest.
Parading the suspects before journalists, the Flag Officer Commanding of the Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral Sidi-Ali Hassan Usman, said the vessel’s movement log showed evidence of previous voyages to Ghana.
“At the time of the arrest, the vessel was loaded with products suspected to be stolen crude oil from Akassa Community in Brass Local Council Area of Bayelsa State. It seems reasonable therefore to infer that this is not the first attempt by the owner of the vessel to steal crude oil in Nigeria for the purpose of selling in Ghana,” he said.
Preliminary investigations, he said, showed that at the time of arrest, the vessel could not tender relevant documents and permits required for the movement of petroleum products through Nigerian waters.
Usman added that upon interrogation, the captain, identified as Adeyemi Akinleye, confessed the crew was instructed by the owner of the vessel to load stolen crude oil from two barges in Akassa and thereafter proceed to Tema in Ghana where the product would be disposed.
The captain, giving further details of the mission, revealed that a local pilot was used to navigate the vessel into Nun River while one Destiny was the agent that supplied the product.
The navy commander said the vessel, which measured 83 metres in length and eight metres in breadth, had a tonnage capacity of 1 200 metric tonnes.
Usman reiterated the determination of the command to completely eradicate the menace of oil theft, illegal bunkering and other forms of criminal activities in the command’s area of responsibility.
– CAJ News