The Central Naval Command, Yenagoa, on Saturday handed over 25 suspected oil thieves to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps, NSCDC, Bayelsa State command for prosecution.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Flag Officer Commanding the Central Naval Command, Sidi-Ali Usman, said that nine of the suspects were arrested aboard a merchant tanker vessel, MTV Eclips, on December 26, 2013.
Mr. Usman, a Rear Admiral, who was represented by the Deputy Command Operating Officer, Vincent Okeke, explained that the vessel was laden with about 870,000 litres of suspected stolen crude oil.
According to him, the laboratory analysis of the product confirmed the product to be crude oil, adding that the Captain of the vessel did not posses relevant documents or permits.
Twelve other suspects, the naval officer said, were arrested aboard MT EIL TANK 123 offshore Agbami oil field by Nigerian Navy Ship ZARIA on January7.
He said the vessel was carrying about 1,241,000 litres of stolen crude, adding that the product analysis conducted on the sample also confirmed the product to be crude oil.
He noted that the vessel lacked clearance and permit for movement of petroleum products.
Mr. Usman said that five suspects were also arrested aboard a large dug out wooden boat on January 25 at Brass River.
"At the time of arrest, the boat was loaded with about 60,000 litres of product suspected to be rude oil. Of course, she neither had documents to show proof of purchase nor permits from relevant regulatory agencies for crude lifting" he said.
Receiving the suspects, the Bayelsa State Commandant of the NSCDC, Desmond Agu, commended the Navy for its relentless efforts to curb crude oil theft.
He assured that the suspects would be promptly arraigned in the court.