Bonny - Officers on a Nigerian Navy ship, NNS Pathfinder, on Sunday in Port Harcourt said they have seized a suspected vessel carrying 500 metric tonnes of diesel worth N90.5 million.
The Commanding Officer, Forward Operating Base in Bonny, Captain Daupreye Matthews, told newsmen the vessel and its 11 crew members were arrested off the coast of Bonny Island in Rivers.
He said they were arrested while the ship was on routine patrol of the waterways.
"The Lagos registered vessel, MT Divine Favour, was arrested on February 10 because it had no valid document to present for freighting of petroleum products,’’ the officer said.
Matthews said all the 11 crew members were Nigerians.
“MT Divine Favour, with its 11 crew members, was arrested 11 nautical miles from the Fairway Buoy, Bonny.
“Preliminary investigations conducted by Navy operatives on the claims provided by the 11 crew members showed them to be incoherent, and point to the members’ involvement in illegal bunkering.
“The crew members will be handed over to the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for further investigation and possible prosecution.
“In line with the vision and mission of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, the Navy will not stop until it rids the nation of oil thieves, pipeline vandals and sea pirates.
“Our troops have been strategically deployed on the waterways to stop any illegality capable of sabotaging our economic growth,” he said.
Matthews said the Navy would continue to maintain a 24-hour surveillance patrol of the waterways in its bid to stop oil theft, pipeline vandalism and sea piracy.
He called on members of the public to provide the Navy with timely information which would lead to the arrest of individuals and groups involved in illegal bunkering in Rivers.
A lead detective of the EFCC, DSP Owoeye Timothy, who received the crew members, said the commission would conduct thorough investigation on the matter.
He said the commission would not fail to unravel all circumstances surrounding the vessel, adding that the suspects would also be arraigned accordingly.
The Captain of the vessel, Taiwo Seyi, said he kept the original copy of the vessel’s documents in the office out of fear of being hijacked by sea pirates.
He claimed that the documents were being re-validated by the owners of the vessel before the arrest.
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