November 28, 2011
The Nigerian Navy recently reported that it has seized some shipping vessels and their crew members caught in the act of oil bunkering off the Nigerian coast in the Bayelsa region.
According to Captain Aminu Hassan, Commanding Officer of the Forward Operating Base of the Nigerian Navy, they are aware of the rising tide of insecurity on the Nigerian waterways.
The Navy Captain, however, assured that new monitoring exercises and efforts by the Federal Government are yeilding positive results, as is evident in the recent arrests of three shipping vessels and the arrests of 11 suspects made by the Navy recently.
While handing over the seized vessels and crew members allegedly involved in oil bunkering to the Nigerian Police and officials of the Economics and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Captain Hassan addressed the press and at the AGIP terminal in Brass LGA of Bayelsa State.
He revealed that a total of 65 illegal refineries have been destroyed by his men in order to discourage and reduce the activities of oil pipeline vandals.
“These arrested goods as highlighted, if you put the amount, the worth of the goods, it amounts to hundreds of millions,” he said.
“Within the past three weeks or there about, Nigerian Navy warships have been deployed and the Nigerian naval helicopters are overflying this general area on a daily basis.”
So far two of the 11 suspects denied having any knowledge of the contents of their vessels.
“I don’t know. I told you, I was just glued to this vessel on 29 September… at Calabar,” arrested suspect Steve Bamgbose said, adding that his instructions were simply to escort the vessel back to Lagos.
Agunbiade, yet another suspect, also denied any knowledge of the attacks, claiming that he joined the vessel after it had departed from its original location.
The fate of all suspects and vessels will now be decided by the Nigerian police as well as the EFCC, however, who signed documents confirming the transfer. With the constant arrests of those involved in bunkering, perhaps this might help in improving the nation’s security and economy in turn.