The Nigerian Navy has arrested seven persons suspected to be smugglers caught in the act of transporting over 210,000 litres of adulterated diesel in Rivers State.
Naval forces said the diesel was stored in four tanker trucks and another unspecified quantity of diesel believed to be stolen were kept inside hundreds of sacks and moved to different locations in the state.
Commodore Umar Sidi, Base Operations Officer, Nigerian Navy Ship Pathfinder, Port Harcourt, spoke during handover of six trucks and the seven suspects to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Thursday.
According to him, the suspects were caught smuggling the adulterated diesel for sale to unsuspecting members of the public before their arrest.
Sidi said: “The first seizure by our patrol team was made on June 17 at about 2:30pm following credible intelligence to the activities of illegal bunkerers at Magcobar area in the state.
“After receiving intelligence, our team mobilised and intercepted two heavy duty trucks loaded with several bags containing an unspecified quantity of suspected illegally refined diesel.
“One suspect was arrested at the scene of the crime.”
Sidi said troops also intercepted and arrested two other tanker trucks around the Tourist Beach area in Borokiri and Rumuokuta Junction in Port Harcourt.
He added: “Three suspects believed to be connected to either the illegal products or the trucks were arrested alongside the trucks on the scene.
“Similarly, on June 29, NNS Pathfinder patrol team also seized two additional tankers and arrested three suspects around the Tourist Beach area in Borokiri.
“The suspects were detained on suspicion of unlawful bunkering of petroleum products suspected to be diesel.”
The naval officer said the seizures and arrests were made possible by the renewed strategies put in place to rid the country of crude oil theft and illegal refining of petroleum products.
Sidi said the naval base was determined to carry out its charge of clearing all forms of crimes and criminality in creeks and waterways in the state.
Receiving the suspects and exhibits, Albert Kukah, Assistant Superintendent of EFCC, lauded the navy for the synergy that existed between the two security outfits.
Kukah promised speedy investigation and prosecution of the suspects in court if found culpable of the crime.