The Central Naval Command (CNC) of the Nigerian Navy has arrested 4 vessels transporting about 2million liters of suspected illegally-refined Automated Gas Oil (AGO) popularly called diesel.
The Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) CNC, Rear Admiral Saidu Suleiman Garba said today that the vessels were arrested by naval operatives at various locations within Brass Local Government Area, Bayelsa State.
Garba named the vessels as MV Messiah 1, Barge Miracle, Barge KOME XVIII and NICHOLAS Marine insisting that the arrest and seizure of the vessels was in line with its mandate to protect critical resources within the nation’s maritime environment.
He explained that MV Messiah 1 and Barge MIRACLE belonging to one Messrs Abday Logistics and Multilinks Limited were rounded up with their contents at the terminal operated by Nigerian Ago Oil Company (NAOC) in Brass.
The FOC said the vessels were getting ready to discharge suspected illegally-refined AGO when they were apprehended by the operatives.
He further said that the barge, KOME XVIII and NICHOLAS Marine were accosted with seven crew members while they were transporting the suspected illegal product to the Brass terminal.
Garba said preliminary investigations revealed that the vessel NICHOLAS Marine was formerly known as PROPHET ELIJAH 1 heightening suspicion of the motive behind the change of name.
He said: “Laboratory tests were conducted on the samples of the products obtained from the various vessels which came out negative, showing that the sampled products failed the Directorate of Petroleum Resources (DPR) laboratory testing thereby confirming their illegally refined status”.
He advised criminals to steer clear of the waterways and the maritime environment adding that the navy would continue to enforce zero tolerance for crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism, illegal oil bunkering and other sundry crimes.
The Commander Forward Operating Base, FORMOSO handed over the four vessels and seven suspects to operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for further investigations and prosecution.
Speaking after receiving the suspects, the Principal Detective Superintendent, Shehu Jibralla, assured the Navy of thorough investigation and prosecution.