The Nigerian Navy in Port Harcourt during its extensive waterway patrols on Sunday seized two wooden boats carrying about 100, 000 litres of illegal diesel worth N20.4 million, and arrested three suspects in Akuku Toru local government area of Rivers state.
Base Operations Officer, Nigerian Navy Ship, NNS Pathfinder, Commander Ugochukwu Ajulu, speaking to newsmen yesterday said the boats were seized during routine patrol of waterways and creeks in the state, adding that those arrested will be handed over to the appropriate security agency for prosecution.
According to Commander Ajulu, on March 31, naval troops on routine patrol in-line with strategic directives from naval authorities, impounded two wooden boats carrying suspected illegally refined diesel in quantity of about 100,000 litres.
The first wooden boat transporting about 60 drums fully loaded with suspected stolen diesel was impounded along Bakana waterways with three suspects on-board. The second boat which had over 100 drums laden with illegally refined diesel was seized while it anchored at Aiteo jetty near Abonema.
Also, Commander Ajulu narrated that 5,000 litres of diesel was stored in a compartment on the boat, and naval operatives were unable to make any arrest from the second boat as its crew members had fled the scene on sighting advancing naval patrol gunboats.
However, preliminary investigations are ongoing to unravel the source and supply chain of the products, and the suspects will be handed over to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) for further investigation and possible arraignment in court.
While calling on members of the public to join the navy in the fight against oil thievery, Ajulu added that the identity of such individuals would be protected.
The Nigerian Navy reports that with its patrols and increased surveillance activities, has arrested 11 crude oil thieves and destroyed several illegal refineries in the last one week.
The Director of Naval Information (DINFO), Commodore Christian Ezekobe in a statement over the weekend said that the achievement which was in line with the directives of Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, was recorded between March 21-28, 2016.