By Richards Adeniyi
The Nigerian Navy says it arrested a vessel and metallic badge transporting illegally refined diesel suspected to be stolen from a pipeline in Rivers State.
Capt. Victor Choji, the executive officer, NNS Pathfinder Port Harcourt, handed-over the vessel, badge and five suspects to operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Thursday.
He said that MV De Blessing was caught towing a metallic badge containing about 300,000 litres of stolen diesel to an undisclosed destination.
“On April 22, 2017, at about 1 a.m., troops of NNS Pathfinder, a task group under the Operation Delta Safe, during a routine patrol, intercepted and impounded MV De Blessing.”
“The vessel was impounded around Makoba Jetty area of Port Harcourt for illegal transhipment from a badge, Gare, laden with about 300,000 litres of petroleum product suspected to be illegally refined AGO (diesel).
“The badge, vessel and five all-male crew members arrested, have been in our custody undergoing interrogation as part of our preliminary investigation,” he said.
Choji said the seizure and arrest was in compliance with strategic directive of the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice-Adm. Ibok-Ete Ibas, to secure the waterways for businesses to thrive.
He advised criminals to steer clear of the waterways as the maritime environment was no longer safe for illegal bunker and piracy.
“We are on the ground and have dominated the waterways and would continue to frustrate any form of illegalities in our area of responsibility,” he assured.
Responding, EFCC Zonal Head, South-South, Mr Ishaq Salihu, who received the five suspected oil thieves and vessels, said the commission would conduct a thorough investigation on the matter.
Salihu said that the suspects would be arraigned if found culpable of the allegations against them.
He called on authorities to set up special courts to ensure quick dispensation of justice for offenders.