The Nigerian Navy has said its Forward Operating Base (FOB), Igbokoda, Ondo State, has in the early hours of Thursday apprehended a 77-meter-long Motor Tanker (MT) VINNALARIS 1 LAGOS involved in crude oil theft.
This is contained in a statement by the Director of Naval Information, Commodore Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, in Abuja.
He said the vessel, which had 17 crew members onboard at the time of arrest, was caught engaging in illegal siphoning of crude oil from one of the well heads at EBESAN oil field about 7 nautical miles off the coast of Awoye riverine community in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo state.
He said the arrest of the vessel followed credible intelligence received by the Base on the illegal activities of crude oil thieves at the location, which informed the swift deployment of FOB IGBOKODA personnel to nab the vessel and her crew.
“Notably, as the anti-Crude Oil Theft Patrol Team of FOB IGBOKODA approached MT VINNALARIS 1 LAGOS, the 2 x boats attached to the vessel fled on sighting the naval personnel, which confirmed the engagement of the vessel in illegality.
“Accordingly, on arrival at the scene, it was discovered that the vessel was actively involved in siphoning crude oil from both sides of the well head. Consequently, upon further search and interrogation, it was further discovered that the vessel had onboard 17 crew members of Nigerian nationality.”
Ayo-Vaughan said the vessel had storage capacity of about 15,000 metric tonnes, adding that it loaded about 500 metric tonnes of crude oil as at the time of arrest.
According to him, the arrest of MT VINNALARIS 1 LAGOS attests to the Nigerian Navy’s determination to curb crude oil theft and all manners of illegalities in Nigeria’s maritime domain.
He warned that the Nigerian navy would use all legitimate means at its disposal to track and arrest perpetrators of illegalities in Nigeria’s maritime environment.
He solicited the cooperation of patriotic and well-meaning members of the public to promptly report any form of criminality, especially in the coastal communities to the navy for necessary action.
According to him, it is believed that Tantita Security Service (TSS) is involved in these illegalities because Awoye riverine area which is close to the place of arrest is covered by TSS.
“Again, it was upon the arrest of the vessel by the Nigerian navy that TSS began to raise false alarm, totally unfounded and indeed mischievous.
“Nonetheless, the Nigerian navy remains resolute in the pursuit of her constitutional mandate for the protection of Nigeria’s Maritime Environment for national economic development and prosperity,” he stated.