21 March 2014
The Nigerian Navy, Central Naval Command (CNC), has impounded a vessel loaded with 2,332,000 litres of stolen crude oil and arrested six suspected oil thieves.
The Flag Officer Commanding, CNC, Rear Admiral Peter Agba, on Thursday said the suspected stolen crude oil was in excess of N1 billion. Agba, in a statement read by the Command Operations Officer, Cdre Bamidupe Babagbale, said the ship, MT CERGEN was intercepted and seized along Fish Town waterways, Southern Ijaw Local Government Area, Bayelsa State.
He said original name of the ship which was arrested with six Nigerian crew members is MT. MARISA. It was gathered that 10 persons were onboard the ship, but four of them including the captain, escaped.
Agba said: “The captain of the ship was unable to tender relevant documents such as Nigerian Port Plc nomination bunkering permit and Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s nomination for crude oil lifting. They deleted the original name MT MARISA and changed it to MT CERGEN.
“The Central Naval Command has commenced investigation into the source of the suspected crude oil on board the vessel.”
A leader of the group, who identified himself simply as Temitope, claimed that he was convinced to embark on the journey when the captain showed him papers authorising the ship to carry diesel.
Temitope, an indigene of Ekiti State, said, “At the beginning of the journey, the captain showed me the papers authorizing them to carry AGO (diesel) and I believed it was diesel that was inside the vessel. “But when we were arrested, it was discovered that instead of diesel, it was crude oil that was there.”
The FOC said the Naval Base Warri, NNS Delta, destroyed more than 150 illegal refineries last week. He said the Navy Forward Operating Base (FORMOSO) in Escravos destroyed such refineries at Ugbegudu, while the base in Yenagoa burnt many many others around Amassoma.
He said: “The foregoing arrest and destruction of illegal refineries underscore the determination of the Nigerian Navy and Central Naval Command in particular, to completely eradicate oil theft, illegal bunkering and other maritime illegalities in Nigerian waters.
“This further demonstrates the zero tolerance of the Chief of Naval Staff against oil theft. “Consequently, I hereby warn intending criminals to change their minds and do something worthwhile, viable and free from illegality as there is nowhere to hide in this command.”