The Nigerian Navy said it had arrested seven suspected oil thieves transporting 280,000 litres of diesel allegedly syphoned from pipelines.
The Executive Officer, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder, Capt. Victor Choji, disclosed this while presenting the suspects to newsmen on Thursday in Onne, Rivers.
Choji said that the arrest was made when the naval troops on routine patrol accosted a vessel, MT Araba, which had neither permit nor license to move petroleum products in the waterways.
“The suspects were arrested along Bonny (Local Government Area) axis on Dec. 21, 2017 with 280 metric tonnes (280,000 litres) of product suspected to be diesel.
The suspects have been in our custody undergoing preliminary investigation and had told the investigators that they were contracted to deliver the petroleum product to a company in Port Harcourt.
“We have concluded our investigation, and so, we would hand over the vessel, product and suspects to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to carry on with further action,” he said.
The executive officer assured that the navy would not rest on its oars until it brought to justice the criminal elements sabotaging the nation’s critical oil and gas facilities.
A Senior Detective with the EFCC, Aminu Ismaila, said the commission would conduct speedy investigation into the matter.
According to him, the suspects will be arraigned and if found culpable, would be appropriately dealt with according to the laws of the land.
Ismaila said the commission had charged to court 16 Ukrainian nationals who allegedly entered the nation’s territorial waters with 5 million litres of diesel without permit from Nigerian authorities.
The captain of MT Araba, Ishola Adeniyi, said that they lifted the product from an undisclosed source in the state.
He said that they were on their way to deliver the product to A & S Oil and Gas Ltd., in Port Harcourt when they were arrested by the naval personnel.