PORT HARCOURT – The Nigerian Navy has handed over 12 suspected oil thieves and 161, 280 litres of stolen diesel to the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
Cdr. Chindo Yahaya, the Base Operations Officer of the Navy Ship Pathfinder in Port Harcourt, said the suspects were arrested for their alleged involvement in the theft of the diesel valued at N30 million during several raids off the waterways in Asari-Toru Local Government Area of the state.
Yahaya, who handed over a tug boat, a barge, three wooden boats, and 172 drums containing the stolen diesel to NSCDC, said the barge, MV Saviour, contained 120,000 litres of diesel, while the wooden boats carried 41,280 litres of the stole diesel.
“On November 25, we went on patrol along Alakiri creek (Asari-Toru LGA) based on intelligence report of the presence of two barges, a tug boat, and some speed boats lifting crude oil and illegally refined AGO (diesel).
“On arriving at Alakiri creek, the patrol team intercepted a tug boat and a barge with five suspects.
“Also, on December 1, based on intelligence report, we intercepted three wooden boats loaded with about 172 drums containing a substance suspected to be illegally refined AGO at Iyalama creek.
“Upon interrogation, they (seven suspects) were unable to offer any convincing answers and as such, we have to hand them over to NSCDC for detailed investigation and prosecution.
“We advise that criminality is not a way of life because based on our mandate, we are going to be unrelenting in our efforts towards curtailing crime particularly along the waterways.“
Yahaya said the navy was currently succeeding in its fight against oil theft adding that it had impounded several vessels, barges, and boats just as it destroyed several illegal refineries in the course of 2014.
The naval operative said the arrests and seizures had led to a significant reduction in oil theft and pipeline vandalism.
He said the navy would sustain the intensity of its water and air patrol to further reduce the attacks on the nation’s oil and gas facilities.
The Deputy Commandant of NSCDC in the state, Mrs Christy Abiakam, who received the suspects, said the corps would carry out detailed and speedy investigation of the case.
She said that if found culpable, the suspects would be arraigned in a law court to serve as deterrent to others.