– A barge containing 120,000 litres of illegal crude has been impounded in Port Harcourt by the Nigerian Navy
– The Navy has also apprehended 17 suspected oil thieves
– The thieves have been handed over to the NSCDC for further prosecution
A barge containing about 120,000 litres of alleged illegal crude oil has been impounded at Elem Kalabari in Akuku Toru Local Government Area of Rivers state, by men of the Nigerian Navy.
According to Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral James Oluwole, who disclosed this to newsmen on Thursday, October 13, crew members of the barge escaped.
Oluwole added that more House boats would be set up on the waterways to enhance sea patrol by men of the Navy.
He said that the barge was impounded on Wednesday by his men on sea patrol, adding that the choke points strategy adopted by the Navy was yielding commendable result in the fight against oil theft, Vanguard reports.
He said: “Naval troops manning our maritime security stations (house boat) on Wednesday around 2a.m., intercepted and impounded a metallic barge laden with about 120,000 litres of crude oil suspected to be stolen.
“Troops were unable to arrest crew members on board the barge as they fled the scene on sighting advancing naval gunboats.
“This interception is a testament to success of our choke point strategy which involves positioning of troops on flash points for quick response to situations. “This strategy and other security measures recently put in place curtailed spate of attacks on oil and gas installations, piracy and other criminality in our maritime environment.”
In a similar vein, Officers and men of the Navy in Ikot Abasi, Akwa Ibom state, yesterday handed over 17 suspected oil thieves to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) for prosecution.
The suspects were allegedly caught with 47,000 litres of product suspected to be illegally-refined Automative Gas Oil (AGO).
The Commander, Commodore Saidu Garba, said over 47,000 litres of liquid suspected to be Automative Gas Oil (AGO), three Cotonou wooden boats, 113 drums of 250 litres of AGO and 188 empty drums of 250 litres were recovered from the suspects at Ibeno in Ibeno Local Government.
Garba said the command acted on a tip- off and the suspects were arrested in the creeks of Ibeno.
He said: “NNS Jubilee special boat patrol at Ibeno in Ibeno Local Government Area arrested 17 suspects, and two Cotonou boats with 113 by 250-litre drums of products suspected to be illegally-refined Automative Gas Oil (AGO) were recovered.
“It is known that these unregulated refining processes cause heavy environmental degradation, health hazards and loss of revenue for the nation.
“You will recall that just a few days ago, a combined patrol team of NNS Jubilee and NOP Ikuru at Ataba arrested four illegal bunkering suspects and two Cotonou boats with 75 by 250-litre drums of illegally-refined AGO were impounded.
“These illegal activities amount to assault to the collective interest of the nation and constitute huge economic sabotage running into several millions of naira.”
Garba reiterated the Navy’s commitment to enhance community relations to eliminate economic sabotage and crime in the maritime domain.
He warned oil thieves and other criminals to desist and venture into productive businesses.
The Nation reports that NSCDC Commandant Mrs Obiageli Obiagulu said due process would be followed in the prosecution of the suspects.
Represented by the NSCDC’s Divisional Officer in Ikot Abasi, Mr. Ojimba Abel, Obiagulu said: “I hail the Navy commander in Ikot Abasi for the process he followed to make sure the documentations are ready.
“I assure you that our legal department and intelligent section will effect the prosecution so that whoever that is involved in oil bunkering will not go scot-free.”
Source : Naij.comNaij.com