Yenagoa — Twenty three suspected crude oil thieves arrested weekend by the Central Naval Command in Bayelsa state are now in police custody in the state capital, Yenagoa.
Daily Trust gathered that they were arrested aboard two vessels allegedly loaded with 250,000 litres of illegally refined automated gas oil.
While nine of the suspected oil thieves were arrested aboard a vessel MT Favour 1 along the Akassa River, fourteen were arrested on board MT Rica along the Nun River.
The Flag Officer Commanding, Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral Sidi Usman represented by the Command's Operation Officer, Commodore Emmanuel Enemor, handed the suspects over to the representative of the State Commissioner of Police, ASP Chris Nwogu.
According to Enemor, the two vessels were intercepted by the Nigerian Naval patrol teams, FORMOSO which has its operating base in Brass Local Government Area of the state. "Instead of purchasing original products at certified loading points, the vessels were said to have diverted to the creeks to patronise crudely refined AGO," he explained.
"Investigations by the navy revealed that MT RICA was operated by Alcylios Ltd located at 25 Warehouse Road, Apapa, Lagos. MT FAVOUR 1 before its arrest operated under the business name of Petrol Marine Trading and Shipping Company located at 60 Emekuku Street, D Line, Port Harcourt, Rivers State."
He said that the laboratory analysis of the product samples from the vessels indicated that the AGO found on board was of low quality, confirming that it may have been illegally refined; adding that the captains of both vessels confessed on video that they lifted over 150,000 and 100,000 litres respectively of illegally refined AGO at Akassa.
"At the time of the arrest, the captains of both vessels could not tender their ship's documents, ship's logs, Nigeria Port Authority bunkering permits and certificate of registration with the Joint Task Force, Operation Pulo Shield", he maintained.