By Desmond Ejibas
Bonny (Rivers) – The Nigerian Navy says it has arrested nine suspects at the Bonny waterways in Rivers, in connection with smuggling of undisclosed quantity of crude oil.
Capt. Adegoke Ebo, the Executive Officer, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder, Port Harcourt, disclosed this on Friday in Bonny, while handing over the suspects to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Ebo alleged the suspects lifted the oil from illegal refineries scattered across creeks in the Niger Delta.
He said, “In line with the Nigerian Navy policing role, our patrol team intercepted and seized MT Lady Ochy together with eight suspects onboard the vessel on Dec. 1.
“MT Lady Ochy was seized around Sambero River in the state on suspicion of its involvement in crude oil theft.
“At the time of seizure, the vessel was laden with unspecified quantity of petroleum product suspected to be crude oil.’’
Ebo said that shortly after the arrest, the Lagos-registered vessel was towed to anchorage in Bonny Island to enable naval investigators carry out preliminary investigation.
“Following the investigation, we arrested another suspect, who is manager of the vessel.
“The suspect was brought in for questioning bordering around the activities of the vessel as well as his own involvement in the allege crime.
“We have concluded our investigation, and, as such, we are here to hand over the nine suspects, vessel and crude oil to EFCC to continue with investigation,’’ he said.
He assured of the navy’s zero tolerance to crude oil theft, illegal bunkering and other illegalities in the nation’s maritime domain.
According to him, the navy is currently on a massive campaign to rid Rivers waterways of illegalities to boost economic and social activities.
Receiving the suspects and seized items, Mr Bala Mohammed, EFCC Port Harcourt Zonal Office thanked the navy for supporting the anti-graft agency to fight economic crime in Rivers.
Mohammed gave the assurance that the commission would speedily investigate the matter with a view to prosecute the suspects.