Port Harcourt — The joint military taskforce operating in the Niger Delta, Operation Delta Safe, has arrested a vessel, MV Cecelia Imo, laden with 250,000litres of illegally refined Automotive Gasoline Oil, commonly known as diesel, at a jetty in Gbalajam, Woji area of Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The Commander of OPDS, Rear Admiral Olusegun Ferreira, explained that the vessel with a storage capacity of 350,000 litres, has not been at sea for over two years and was converted to a storage tank for illegal refined AGO.
Ferreira, while conducting newsmen aboard the vessel, said the area was located based on intelligence, and assured that actions will be taken against the vessel with the arrested suspects, in line with the extant regulations binding on OPDS operations.
Represented by the Marine Component Commander of OPDS, Commodore Adedokun Siyanbade, Ferreira also disclosed that two tankers were recently arrested with over 33,000 litres of crude oil by Joint Sector III of OPDS, made up of land component and marine component.
He said, “The operation was conducted yesterday 15th of August 2023 and that operations led to the arrest of MV Cecelia Imo, a vessel that ought to be a service boat has been converted to a storage tank for illegally refined products suspected to be AGO.
“The vessel has a capacity of 350,000 litres, even the water tank has been converted into a fuel storage tank for this illegal product and the vessel hasn’t been to sea for the past 2years. It was expected to be under maintenance whereby illegal refiners bring their products for storage and sales.
“The vessel has been arrested and neccessary procedures will be taken in line with extant regulations binding on OPDS operations.
“On this vessel, a suspect was arrested and the engineer on board the vessel is still at large. Invariably the vessel has no captain since it has not been at sea for a long time, those on board are only the engineers and the deck hands, but we were only able to arrest the deck hands that was found on board late yesterday evening.”
Also speaking, the Commander of NNS Pathfinder, Commodore Desmond Igbo, assured that thr Navy will not rest on its oars in arresting all economic saboteurs in the region.
Igbo also advised young people to desist from being used in carrying out any form of criminality, adding that everyone connected the illegal business with the vessel will be arrested and prosecuted.
“The mandate and directive of the CNS, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, to us that we should carry the fight to the criminals, and this is one of it. We are not relenting, we are poised, and we are going to meet them in the creeks, even before they start planning, we will be there day and night to catch them.
“All illegalities and those who are perpetrating it, this is a warning for them to desist or else we will catch them wherever they are. This is just the beginning, all those who are involved in this illegality will be brought to book. The vessel owner, his suppliers, buyers and everyone connected. We will get them.
“Young people must desist from being used to carry out any form of illegalities, there are so many other youths who are engaged in meaningful activities. There are many legal jobs for the youths apart from sabotaging the economy of the nation; stealing crude is a sabotage to the economy of the nation. The government is doing a lot to empower the youths, the youths should key into it.”