Nigerian Navy Arrests Motor Tanker Vessel For Crude Oil Theft

The Nigerian Navy (NN), through its newly launched Operation, tagged OPERATION DELTA SANITY, has arrested a 13-crew member oil theft syndicate.

According to a disclosure made by NN’s Director of Information, Rear Admiral Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan on Sunday, the syndicate, comprising 1 Ghanian and 12 Nigerians, who were on board a Ghanaian-owned unregistered vessel known as Motor Tanker (MT) SWEET MIRI, were arrested on 25 February 2024.

The arrest of the economic saboteurs was made at about 174 nm (approximately 320km) off Nigeria’s coast heading towards Benin Republic after the vessel was observed to have switched off her Automatic Identification System (AIS) in a bid to evade detection.

The infraction contravened the International Ships and Port Security Code (ISPS) and she was tagged a “Vessel of Interest” (VoI) by the NN, whose Maritime Domain Awareness infrastructure observed the criminal intent of the vessel and subsequently vectored 2 NN ships on patrol to interrogate the vessel, before it was discovered that MT SWEET MIRI was involved in illegalities and the vessel was subsequently arrested.

The suspicious disposition of the vessel necessitated the swift deployment of Nigerian Navy Ship ABA and Nigerian Navy Ship SOKOTO to intercept the vessel. Notably, upon arrest, MT SWEET MIRI was found carrying about 2 million litres of product suspected to be crude oil without any form of approval from relevant authorities.

In line with the directive of Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, for an in-depth and independent investigation, relevant approving/prosecuting agencies have been notified for samples collection and in order to further ascertain the culpability or otherwise of the vessel. This is necessary to unmask the enemies of the nation and to institute holistic and detailed investigations.

Meanwhile, the Service has assured that it will continue to collaborate with relevant maritime, security and law enforcement agencies in order to closely monitor, evaluate and interdict where infractions are suspected, to bring economic saboteurs to book in line with relevant extant laws of the land.

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