Navy arrests 20 for ‘stealing’ 500,000 litres of crude
Twenty suspects have been arrested by the Central Naval Command (CNC) of the Navy for allegedly stealing 500,000 litres of crude oil.
The ship christened MV ELMINA was also impounded.
The suspects were, however, handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday at the command’s Forward Operating Base (FOB), Formoso, Brass, Bayelsa State.
The Commanding Officer, FOB Formoso, Capt. Noel Madugu, said the suspects were arrested at Sangana River in Brass Local Government while trying to escape with the illegal product.
He said they loaded the ship using jerry-cans containing crude oil suspected to have been illegally bunkered from a pipeline belonging to the Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC).
Madugu said the suspects comprising 18 Nigerians, one Camerounian and one Ghanaian were on board the vessel when she was impounded.
He gave the names of the suspects as Lucky Osiebe, captain; Adakole Onmoniji, chief engineer; Monday Esemutoye; Tonwoye College; Collins Ograko; Odaba Divine; Dutie Ezetu; Frederick Onwoievbe; Bonley Atangeho and Dover Abruda.
Others are Joe Richard, Campala Lewis, Efe Godday, Aaron Amohefe, Reuben Dabbi, Joseph Koey, Ponmile Gideon, Wafo Marcel, Dominion Agbo and Akinbolu David.
Madugu said the captain could not provide the relevant documents to lift crude oil at the time of the arrest.
He said the suspects claimed they were sent by the owner of the ship to load Automated Gas Oil (AGO), but that when the products were tested, they were found to be crude oil.
Parading the suspects before transferring them to the officials of the EFCC, Port Harcourt office, the captain noted that they were arrested about 1:30am on August 7.
The commanding officer said: “About 1:30am on August 7, MV ELMINA was intercepted coming out of the creeks of Sangana River entrance in Brass Local Government.
“The vessel and her crew were intercepted by NNS BOMADI while on a routine patrol of the area.
“Upon arrest, the actions of the crew during interrogation indicated that they had carried out the dubious activity as they refused initially to answer their radio until several warning shots.”
He said a naval ship escorted the vessel until she was safely anchored at Brass River where she was detained for further interrogation.
According to him, the handover of the suspects was in compliance with the directive of the Flag Officer Commanding, Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral Peter Agba.
He said the Navy was determined to wage war against economic sabotage, adding that the security outfit would not rest until crude oil theft was stopped.
“There is no hiding place for any illegal bunkering activities in the Niger Delta. The Navy will comb every nook and cranny of the region to ensure oil theft is curbed,” he said.
The representative of the EFCC, Mr. Owoeye Timothy, who took delivery of the 20 suspects, said investigation would begin for possible prosecution.
“We have taken over MV ELMINA and the suspects. Investigation continues,” he added.
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