Navy arrests ship heading for Benin Republic with stolen crude oil, nabs 13

Hassan gave credit to the DSS for being a formidable organisation and for doing a great job, particularly in matters of investigations brought to them.

The Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Western Naval Command, Rear Adm. Mohammed Hassan, on Saturday, confirmed the arrest of 13 suspected crude oil thieves on board Motor Tanker (MT) Sweet Miri off the coast of Nigerian waters.

Hassan told newsmen aboard the vessel that the motor tanker was laden with almost two million litres of products suspected to be crude oil and had no naval approval onboard.

The FOC, who is also the Commander, Joint Task Force Operation Awase, South West, said thorough investigations to ensure that kingpins of crude oil theft were brought to book would be carried out

He said the launch of Operation Delta Sanity by the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Vice Adm. Emmanuel Ogalla had further spurred naval men towards fighting crude oil theft with more vigour.

“On Feb. 15, our radar detected a dark ship, meaning, she hid all forms of investigation as far as 174 Nautical Miles off the coast of Nigeria heading westward towards Republic of Benin.

“We dispatched Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Aba to go and investigate the contact, we subsequently followed the investigation by dispatching NNS Sokoto to double-up the search and interdiction.

“MT Sweet Miri is a vessel that has been on the watch list of the Nigerian Navy for some time and has been arrested for suspicion of crude oil theft,” the FOC said.

Hassan said the vessel was opened for other agencies to come and take samples and carry out their own independent investigations to find out the culpability of the vessel of interest.

Tue FOC questioning the captain of the suspected crude oil theft [NAN]

“We are happy to contribute further in the fight against crude oil theft and we will continue to double-up on our efforts in this regard.

“We think that most of this theft is carried out from abandoned wellheads at sea.

“There are so many spread out all over and there is a need to decommission these oil heads as they provide avenues for thieves to take advantage of,” he said.

Hassan reiterated the commitment of the Navy under the instructions of the CNS to clamp down on kingpins following the arrest of MT Vinnalaris 1 Lagos, in December 2023 in Ondo State.

He said the CNS had directed that all arrests must be properly investigated and justice served.

“So, we are not just to stop at the level of crew arrest but to also go after kingpins and with the case of MT Vinnalaris, we have done a good job.

“We have gotten the people involved in the theft and that includes the managerial level of the company that owns the ship.

“We just have one more person to pick up who has absconded outside Nigeria but we are waiting for him,” the FOC said.

Hassan gave credit to the DSS for being a formidable organisation and for doing a great job, particularly in matters of investigations brought to them.

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