The Navy in Rivers on Friday handed over 10 suspected oil thieves apprehended while transporting petroleum product without permit to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Capt. Suleiman Olorundare, the Commanding Officer of the Nigerian Navy Forward Operating Base in Bonny, Rivers, handed over the crewmen to the anti-graft agency in Bony after parading them before newsmen.
The commanding officer said that the suspects were arrested while moving illegally refined diesel to Lagos.
Olorundare said: “On January 31 at about 0800 hours, one of our gunboats while on routine patrol of the waterways and creeks intercepted a vessel, MT Ellen.
“MT Ellen was intercepted eight nautical miles off Bonny Fairway Bouy (coastal waters) over its suspicious movement and activities on sea.
“On boarding the vessel, troops discovered that it did not have approval to move the petroleum product.
“Ten crewmen of Nigerian nationality onboard the vessel were immediately arrested for their involvement and conspiracy in moving petroleum product suspected to be illegally refined diesel.”
Olorundare explained that the vessel, the crewmen and the product had been in naval custody to enable interrogators to determine the source, supplier and receiver of the petroleum product.
He said the vessel neither had calibration chart nor an approval, which made it difficult to determine the volume of the product concealed inside the vessel’s storage compartments.
He said: “The Nigerian navy will not rest on its oars until it brings to justice all criminal elements sabotaging the nation’s critical oil and gas facilities.”
Receiving the suspects a Senior Detective with the EFCC, Aminu Ismaila, said the commission would conduct speedy investigation into the arrest.
According to him, the suspects will be arraigned and if found culpable dealt with appropriately, according to the laws of the land.
Ismaila said: “The vessel does not have calibration chart and we will immediately take the diesel sample to the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency to ascertain the volume of the diesel inside the vessel.
“The EFCC has prosecuted many suspects in court. However, we lack manpower to guard vessels, hence the navy has been assisting us by guarding vessels handed over to us.”