The Nigerian Navy on Wednesday handed over a seized Barge ‘MT Gratitude’ laden with 1000,000 litres of diesel suspected to be illegally refined to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Brass, Bayelsa.
The Navy also handed over to the EFCC, six crew members of the ill-fated tug boat for their alleged involvement in oil bunkering and refining.
The barge and the six persons were handed over to the EFCC through the Forward Operating Base (FOB), FORMOSO, based in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa, for further investigation and possible prosecution.
The Commander of FOB Formoso, Commodore Ibrahim Suleiman, while handing over the suspects and barge, said the Navy was determined to rid the region of illegal activities, especially oil bunkering.
He said the barge which was caught in Brass inland by naval intelligence officers was carrying 1000, 000 liters of illegally refined diesel worth about N350 million.
He said: “MT Gratitude, owned by Ocean Honey Nigeria Limited was arrested on Jan. 9 conveying AGO, also known as diesel.
“As you know the Niger Delta is known for illegal bunkering, popularly known as Kpoo Fire.
“The laboratory test analysis of the Department of Petroleum Resources, shows that the product is fake.
“As directed by the Chief of Naval Staff, Ibok-Ete Ibas, that crude oil theft, illegal bunkering and all forms of criminalities should be stopped in the region.”
He said the Navy has been patrolling the sea to ensure that the waterways are safe for sea fearers to carry out their legitimate businesses.
Suleiman advised criminals to take advantage of the various opportunities of Federal Government`s programmes available for young people and denounce crime.
Receiving the barge and the six suspects on behalf of the EFCC, Principal Detective Superintendent, Tasiu Abubakar assured the Navy of diligent investigation and possible prosecution.