8 February, 2014
As part of measures to rid the nation’s waterways of all forms of illegalities, personnel of the Western Naval Command, Apapa, Lagos, have arrested three vessels for suspected illegal oil deals and fishing. The vessels; FT Silver Streak, MT Omat and MT Ortakayo-1, were said to have been arrested while engaging in illegal activities at the command’s Area of Responsibility (AOR).
While FT Silver Streak was arrested by the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) ANDONI for illegal fishing, the other two were arrested for suspicious oil deals.
Confirming the arrests, the Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Sanmi Alade, said it was made possible through the commitment and renewed efforts of the command to make the maritime environment unconducive for illegalities.
He said, “Accordingly, if the vessel FT White Streak and its crew members are found culpable, they would be handed over to the Federal Department of Fisheries for further investigation and prosecution,likewise the other two vessels”.
THISDAY however gathered that the fishing trawler was finally handed over to the Department of Fisheries on Thursday by the navy in order to fast track prosecution.
Alade said the other two vessels, MT OMAT and MT ORTAKOY-1, which were arrested on the allegation of suspicious oil deal would not go scot free either. He said, “MT OMAT was allegedly carrying 100MT of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) without having the required operating approvals.
Similarly MT ORTAKOY-1 was also allegedly carrying 200MT of AGO without approval. “The vessel was also caught operating with expired NIMASA registration licence, which is considered to be a serious offence in the maritime sector.”
He said investigations on the two vessels are still ongoing, after which they would be handed over to the appropriate government agencies for prosecution. Alade also charged the personnel of the command not to relent in their effort to ensure that the Nigerian maritime environment is secured for legitimate business to thrive.
He said, “The Chief of the Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Usman Jibrin, has declared a zero tolerance for illegal activities in Nigerian waters and this has resulted in enhanced maritime patrols, immediate arrests of all suspicious maritime and oil related activities as well as speedy investigation of cases.
“All these are geared towards ensuring that the Nigerian maritime environment is safe for legitimate economic activities for the well being of Nigerians.”