In a bid to sanitized the Niger Delta region of crude oil thefts, illegal oil bunkering and pipeline vandalism, the Nigerian Navy has arrested two notorious crude oil thieves and seized a barge laden with 600,000 metric tons of stolen illegally refined Automated Gas Oil, AGO.
The arrest, the Navy said is in accordance with the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ete Ekwe Ibas’ Strategic Directive 2015 – 01, aimed at ensuring zero tolerance in all forms of criminalities in the region.
The Command said its patrol team recovered five wooden boats used by the suspects in conveying illegally refined AGO from the refining points to an awaiting barge in the sea.
Speaking shortly after the arrest, Commander Nigerian Navy Ship SOROH, Commodore Habib Usman said the seized vessel and the five wooden boats were laden with products with over 600,000 metric tons of AGO.
Commodore Usman said the barge, christened Merchant Vessel (MV CHUZY 1), 5 boats and the two suspects were arrested near Beama Community in Nembe Local government Area of Bayelsa state.
He gave the names of the two suspects as Chibueze Patrick and one Toyin.
Commodore Usman insisted that as at the time of the arrests, one of the boats had finished trans-loading its product into the barge stressing that the personnel manning Forward Operating Base FORMOSO gunboats and tug boat towed the barge to their own jetty for further investigation.
The five wooden boats, he further said were destroyed in-si-tu, even as the two suspects are in custody for preliminary investigation and prosecution.
Speaking on the arrest, the Flag Officer Commanding Central Naval Command Rear Admiral Mohammed Garba reiterated that there will be no hiding place for crude oil thieves in Niger Delta region.
The FOC insisted that the Nigerian Navy will continue to sustain patrols in the maritime environment.
He further said the command will continue to make the sea lane of communication accessible for all legitimate users and frustrate maritime criminalities in the Central Naval Command Area of Responsibility.