The Nigerian Navy on Saturday said it raided illegal crude oil bunkers and arrested seven suspected oil thieves.
This was contained in a statement signed by its Director of Information, Commodore Christian Ezekobe, in Abuja.
The statement said: “In line with the Chief of the Naval Staff’s drive to eliminate all forms of economic sabotage in the maritime domain, a naval patrol team deployed by the Forward Operations Base ESCRAVOS in Delta raided Sara Creek near ESCRAVOS.
“During the operation, which was conducted on September 7, the team arrested 6 persons in connection with operating an illegal refinery.
“Three Cotonou boats laden with unquantified suspected stolen crude oil were destroyed in the process.
“The patrol team also recovered one speed boat and a Cotonou boat carrying 15×10,000 litres and 2 x 5000 litres GP tanks laden with suspected illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil.
“Other items recovered are 3 outboard engines and 4 pumping machines.
“Similarly the patrol team deployed by NNS DELTA has arrested a Cotonou boat laden with 100 metric tons (MT) of product suspected to be illegally refined AGO.”
The statement said that the boat was arrested on Sept. 7 at Ogboro Creek in Warri South LGA of Delta State.
In a related development, a patrol team deployed by NNS DELTA on September 3 combed Benneth Island situated in Warri South LGA of Delta State.
On arrival, the suspects fled as the team recovered 40 MT of Premium Motor Spirit, one pumping machine and some hoses with which the criminals operated.
The statement added: “Again, on September 2, a patrol team deployed by FOB ESCRAVOS located and destroyed an illegal refinery as well as a very large Cotonou boat laden with product suspected to be stolen crude oil.
“In the course of the operation, one Mr Endurance Edirin was arrested for involvement in the operations of the illegal refinery at Ekpemu Creek in Warri South West LGA in Delta.
“Some items recovered were 2 mobile phones, one pumping machine and hoses.
“In all the cases, investigations have commenced and the suspects would be promptly handed over to the prosecuting agencies for further action.”
The Nigerian Navy, however, appealed to the general public, especially those with legitimate businesses in the maritime sector, to avoid criminal acts.
The statement said it had become imperative as the service was willing, able and ready to carry out its constitutional mandate of protecting the economic assets of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.