The Central Naval Command, (CNC) of the Nigerian Navy in Yenagoa, on Saturday said it seized a vessel laden with 600,000 litres of suspected illegally refined automotive gas oil also known as diesel.
This is contained in a statement issued by Lt. Cdr Edward Yeibo on behalf of the command’s Flag Officer Commanding (FOC).
Yeibo said that two of the four suspected oil thieves were arrested while loading the barge with diesel.
He further reiterated the Navy’s Zero Tolerance to crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism, illegal oil bunkering and other sundry crimes in the Niger Delta Region.
According to him, the operation, which led to the arrest of the suspects, was in line with the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas’s strategic directive to the Navy.
He quoted the Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship SOROH Commodore Habib Usman, as saying that a barge and five wooden boats laden with about 600,000 metric tonnes suspected to be illegally refined Automated Gas Oil and 2 suspects were arrested.
Usman said the suspects were arrested by the Nigerian Navy Ship SOROH around Beama community in Nembe Local Government Area in the waterways within Bayelsa.
The wooden boats were suspected to be used to convey the illegally refined Automated Gas Oil from the refining points to the barge for loading.
“As of the time of the arrest one of the boats had finished trans-loading its product into the barge.
“Consequently, the personnel of Forward Operating Base FORMOSO with gunboats and tug boat towed the barge to its jetty for further investigation.
“However, the wooden boats were destroyed, the two suspects are in custody for preliminary investigation and prosecution,” Yeibo was quoted in the statement.
He added that the FOC, CNC Rear Admiral Mohammed Garba had assured that the Navy will make the sea lane of communication accessible for all legitimate users and frustrate maritime criminalities in its Area of Responsibility.
According to him, there is no hiding place for crude oil thieves as the Navy will continue to sustain patrols in the maritime environment.