26 May 2005

Nigeria: 112 Illegal Bunkerers Arrested

Lagos — Naval authority has said it has arrested about 112 sea pirates and illegal bunkering operating within the waterways in the Niger Delta area of the country in the past one year.

The Flag Officer, Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Ganiyu Adekeye, who told journalists in River State, said no fewer than 112 illegal bunkerers and pirates were arrested by naval personnel combing the water ways in the Eastern Command of the force in search of crude oil thieves.

Adekeye said those arresteed include four foreigners - two Ghanaians, a Togolese and a Beniniose. He added that 48 barges, nine self-propelled barges, six tug boats and 10 wooden canoes belonging to the illegal bunkerers were also impounded.

The barges and the canoes, according to him, were arrested with an unspecified quantity of crude oil and other refined products illegally taken from the country's oil facilities in the Niger Delta.

He also revealed that the force has, during the period recovered N6 million being stolen by suspected sea robbers from one of a bank in Bayelsa State.

The money, Adekeye said, has been handed over to the police and the bank after a thorough proof of ownership was presented.

He warned crude oil thieves in the area, noting that it will no longer be business as usual as the force is now more determined to ensure that peace reigns within the waterways.

He added that within the command's area of responsibility, it will ensure that the robbers and sea pirates, particularly crude oil thieves, no longer have a rosy time, adding that a massive importation of arms and ammunition is in the pipeline to checkmate insurgents in the Niger Delta area.

Adekeye, who re-assured the citizens of Rivers State of their safety despite threats from militant groups, recounted the exploits of the force in containing insurgent who had plotted an invasion of Port Harcourt the Rivers State capital last year.

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