Six Romanians and nine Filipinos were Monday arrested by men of the Central Command of the Nigerian Navy for their alleged involvement in illegal lifting of crude oil along the waterways and creeks of the Niger Delta region.
The 15 crew members comprising of six Romanians and nine Philippines on board the MT VANESSA were brought from Bonny, Rivers State to Yenagoa, Bayelsa state, headquarters of the command.
The Flag Officer Commanding, Rear Admiral Johnson Olutoyin said from investigations, the vessel departed Lome Port on June 5 and arrived the Akassa area in Brass local government area of Bayelsa on June 12.
According to him the registered owner of the vessel is Sea Tankers Shipping SAS but it has no paper from the Nigeria Port Authority (NPA), Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation ( NNPC), Nigerian Custom Service, Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency( NIMASA) and the Nigeria Navy ( NN) for operation in Nigeria's waters.
He disclosed that due to the concerted efforts of the NN to combat illegal activities in the Nigeria waterways, the Navy monitoring of the water with its Regional Maritime Domain Awareness Centres (RMAC) spotted the Ship and its movement.
Giving a graphical illustration of the movement of the ship, Olutoyin said the vessel was deemed a vessel of interest and a naval ship NNS ZARIA under Captain John Ezekiel was dispatched to arrest her.
During interrogation, after interception, he explained that the crew of MT VANESSA admitted that the owners of the ship directed them toroam the waters without any specific location in mind.
Olutoyin said immediately NN ZARIA said she was under arrest, the crew members resisted and decided to speed off and after about three hours of hot pursuit, she was arrested and forced to anchor at Brass before NNS THUNDER escorted her to Bonny.
While stating that investigations are still on-going on the arrested ship, he warned that in line with the mandate handed down to it by the Federal Government, the Navy would ensure that all illegal activities are stopped in the waterways.