The Nigerian Navy, Central Naval Command, Bayelsa State, has arrested 13 suspected oil thieves and intercepted vessel laden with stolen crude oil.
The suspects and the illegal vessel, christened MT REDEMPTION, were intercepted at Middleton and Peddington area of Brass, Bayelsa State, off the Atlantic Ocean.
The suspects were paraded before journalists at the command’s Forward Operating Base (FOB Formoso) at Egwema, Brass, Bayelsa State, on Wednesday.
The suspects and the vessel with its content, were subsequently handed over to operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for further investigation and prosecution.
Narrating how the suspects were arrested, the Flag Officer Commanding, Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral Stanley Ogoigbe, said the gigantic oil vessel and 11 suspected oil thieves were arrested on January 20, 2015.
The FOC said the vessel, MT REDEMPTION, was intercepted by his men on patrol and upon interrogation, it was revealed that the vessel had no cogent reasons to be around the area she was found.
Ogoigbe said, “When the patrol team searched the vessel, it was discovered that some tanks including drums kept on the main deck were laden with products suspected to be crude oil approximately 100,000 litres.
“The captain of the vessel claimed that the contents of the tanks and drums were bitumen but were confirmed to be crude oil after the product was taken to Nigeria Agip Oil Company for laboratory test.
“The crew of MT REDEMPTION could neither disclose the source of the product nor present any valid documents authorising the vessel to lift crude oil.
“Preliminary investigation by his operatives revealed that MT REDEMPTION was owned by one Alhaji Omar Suleiman, who is the owner of Omar Oil Agency Ltd at Tema, Ghana, while the agents of the company in Nigeria are Mr. Niyi Akimosho and Mr. Addisson a Ghanaian, who allegedly assist the owner in recruiting crew members”.
According to Ogoigbe, members of the crew were the captain, Chief Engineer and 11 others.
He assured Nigerians that the Central Naval Command under his watch would bring oil theft to zero level in the area of their responsibility.