From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa

A vessel, MT TIS IV, and 22 suspects have been arrested by the Nigerian Navy over allegations of crude oil theft in Bayelsa State.

The Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Soroh was said to have arrested the vessel and the suspects at Akassa River in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.

NNS Soroh Commander Commodore Patrick Effah said that the vessel was found to be carrying about 700,000 litres which are about 603 metric tons or 4,402 barrels of illegally sourced crude oil worth about $315,500 (N148, 281,000) without the requisite approval for such cargo.

According to him further investigation by the Nay uncovered the source of the stolen crude and relevant companies have been notified.

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‘I must add that the Navy went further to identify the source of the stolen crude and was led to the spot where about 4 dug out pits containing an unspecified quantity of crude oil was discovered which is much more than what was found on the vessel. The discovered storage pit has been reported to the relevant Oil and Gas Company for evacuation. The arrest is one of the numerous successes recorded by the Nigerian Navy in its ongoing Operation QUITEWATERS aimed at dominating Nigeria’s Maritime Environment towards creating deterrence in order to create a secure maritime environment for economic activities to strive,’ he said.

Effah explained that in line with the Chief of the Naval Staff’s Strategic Directives 2021 – 05, which directed Naval Bases to curb all forms of maritime crimes within the nation’s waters, NNS SOROH has been relentless in identifying and arresting perpetrators of crude oil theft, illegal bunkering and other maritime crimes.

While noting that the Nigerian Navy remains unwavering in its drive to rid Nigeria’s Maritime Environment of all forms of criminalities, he warned criminal elements to desist from criminal acts or face the full wrath of the Nigerian Navy.

‘I must add that the arrest of MT TIS IV is one of a series of arrests recently made by the Nigerian Navy. Accordingly, let me seize this opportunity to warn miscreants and intending economic saboteurs to desist from acts of criminality as they have no hiding place and will be caught. Note that the Maritime Domain Awareness facilities of the Nigerian Navy is well equipped to detect and flag vessels engaged in all forms of maritime crimes within Nigerian waters and beyond. While warning criminals, I want to also thank other security agencies and stakeholders more especially the Chief of Defence Staff through Operation Delta Safe and the Chief of the Naval Staff for the support given to the Base to enhance her operations. On a final note, let me reiterate that the Nigerian Navy remains unwavering in its drive to curb all forms of criminalities within Nigeria’s Maritime Environment,’ he stated.