Nigerian Navy arrests Ghanian, 12 others for oil theft


By Emmanuel Obisue

Nigerian Navy has arrested a crude oil theft syndicate crew comprised of one Ghanaian and 12 Nigerians.

The crew were on board a Ghanaian owned and registered vessel known as Motor Tanker, MT SWEET MIRI, the Navy announced in a statement by its Director of Information, Rear Admiral Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan on Monday in Abuja.

Ayo-Vaughan said the operation was conducted on February 25 at about 174 nm (approximately 320km) off Nigeria’s coast, heading toward Benin Republic, after the vessel was observed to have switched off her Automatic Identification System, AIS in a bid to evade detection.

He said the infraction by the vessel contravened the International Ships and Port Security Code, ISPS and was tagged a “Vessel of Interest” by the Navy.

According to the Navy, the Maritime Domain Awareness infrastructure observed the criminal intent of the vessel and subsequently vectored two Navy ships on patrol to interrogate the vessel.

“It was discovered that MT SWEET MIRI was involved in illegalities and the vessel was subsequently arrested.

“Curiously, the suspicious disposition of the vessel necessitated the swift deployment of Nigerian Navy Ship ABA and Nigerian Navy Ship SOKOTO to intercept the vessel.

“Notably, upon arrest, MT SWEET MIRI was found carrying about two million litres of product suspected to be crude oil without any form of approval from relevant authorities,” he said.

Ayo-Vaughan added that the relevant approving/prosecuting agencies had been notified for samples collection with a view to further ascertaining the culpability or otherwise of the vessel.

This, he said, was in line with the directive of Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Emmanuel Ogalla, for an in-depth and independent investigation, adding that it was necessary to unmask the enemies of the nation and to institute holistic and detailed investigations.

He assured that the navy, through the reinvigorated Operation Delta Sanity would continue to collaborate with relevant maritime, security and law enforcement agencies to closely monitor, evaluate and interdict where infractions were suspected to bring economic saboteurs to book in line with relevant extant laws.