Illegal Petroleum Products: Navy Hands Over 65 Persons, Vessels To EFCC

The Nigerian Navy said it had handed over 65 persons to the Economic Financial and Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly in possession of illegally refined petroleum products.The Commander, NNS BEECRORT, Commodore Maurice Eno made the disclosure while addressing journalists in Lagos on MondayHe said that five boats, two vessels and some cash recovered from the suspects were also handed over to the EFCC for further investigations.Eno, who was represented by the Executive Officer, NNS BEECRORT, Capt. Tajudeen Osoba, said that the vessels and suspects were arrested at different time and location.He said: “On July 5 at about 5:40pm, NNS BEECRORT patrol team boarded and arrested MV GLENNSTAR within the Lagos Safe Anchorage Area (LSAA) for suspicion of conveying product suspected to be illegally refined petroleum product.“At the time of the arrest, the vessel had 11 crew members onboard and on interrogation, it was discovered that the vessel was laden with about 800 metric tons (MT) of AGO.“It also claimed to have discharged 200MT at ABO Oil Field located at Escravos Offshore in Warri.“However, investigation revealed that the vessel did not pick the product from the right source,” he said.In another development, the commander told newsmen that another arrest was made by naval patrol team on Sept. 9, and six persons were arrested.According to him, “intelligence report made available to the navy revealed the presence of a wooden boat alongside a vessel conducting illegal transaction in petroleum products.“Accordingly, a team was dispatched to investigate and arrest the perpetrators.“Upon approach, the vessel was identified as MT MATRIX, while the boat had six persons and about 140 drums,” he said.The commoder said that the six persons were Benin Republic Nationals, adding that they had 3,300 US Dollars suspected to be money for payment of the illegal petroleum products.He also said the vessel (MT MATRIX) had 17 crew members consisting of four Pakistanis and 13 Nigerians, as well as 10 drums of AGO.“On Sept. 26 NNS BEECRORT patrol team intercepted a fibre boat lurking around the Single Buoy Mooring (SBM) within the LSAA.“Upon interrogation, it was observed that the boat had two persons onboard and was laden with petroleum products suspected to be illegally sourced AGO.“Investigation also revealed that the boat illegally sourced the product within the area and the two persons confessed to have bought the product from an unidentified vessel,” he said.Eno said that the suspects had the sum of N16, 680 on them, which was believed to be the balance after the illegal transaction.He also said three other wooden boats were intercepted by the NNS BEECRORT patrol team at LSAA on Sept. 26, adding that the boats had some drums, pumping machine and 21persons onboard.“Investigation revealed that 20 of the suspects are Benin Republic Nationals while the last one is from Nigeria who was the coordinator of the illegal transaction.“At the time of the arrest, the suspects collectively had the sum of 21,750 US Dollars, 32,000CFA and N6, 320 on them, which were believed to be the money meant for the transaction.“Additionally, on Oct. 4, about 08:15 am, intelligence report available to NNS BEECRORT revealed the presence of some persons siphoning Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation pipelines laden in front of Glonik Hotel in Lagos,” he said.The commander said that Operation AWATSE was deployed to the scene and eight suspects alongside three tankers were arrested.Eno warned criminals to steer clear of Nigerian waters or face the wrath of the law, vowing that the Nigerian Navy would continue to hunt enemies of the nation.