27 February 2015, Lagos – In line with the zero tolerance of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, to crude oil theft and pipeline vandalism, the Western Naval Command (WNC) has arrested five citizens of Benin Republic and four others for maritime illegalities.
While three of the suspects were arrested outside the Lagos waters, the others including the five Beninoise were arrested when they were intercepted by naval personnel.
Confirming the arrests, the Commanding Officer (CO), Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Beecroft, Commodore Tekumo Ikoli, said the suspects were arrested at different times and places.
He said: “The Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Ikot-Abasi, intercepted a Cotonou wooden boat carrying a large number of drums with six men.
“Preliminary investigations revealed that the six men were involved in illegal activities, including one Mr. Francis Olusegun, who claimed to be the owner of the suspected stolen products.
“The other five persons claimed to be from Benin Republic. Further investigations revealed that there were a total of 78 drums of 250 litres capacity each in the boat.
“Of which 68 of such drums were laden with petroleum products suspected to be Automated Gasoline Oil (AGO), while the other 10 drums were discovered to be empty.
“The six suspects together with their boat and other exhibits are being handed over to the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).”
In a similar development, the NNS Benin while on routine patrol, intercepted a 15-meter Cotonou Fibre boat with items suspected to be stolen petroleum products at the Single Buoy Mooring outside the Lagos waters.
Ikoli said preliminary investigations revealed that the three suspects were found culpable and were also handed over to the NSCDC for further investigation and prosecution.
The CO also stressed that the navy is determined to make the waterways safe for legitimate businesses to thrive without fear of being attacked by criminal elements.
He said: “However, we are using this medium to warn those criminally minded elements to seek for legitimate employment instead of living on untoward activities.
“This is in line with the navy’s zero tolerance to all acts of illegalities within the nation’s maritime space.”
– This Day