The Nigerian Navy Ship Pathfinder in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, says its officers apprehended 11 alleged oil thieves in Krakrama Creeks in the Asari-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State.
According to the Navy, the suspects were apprehended while aboard a wooden boat loaded with equipment for the building of an illicit refining plant.
Commodore Desmond Igbo, Commander of NNS Pathfinder, revealed this while paraded the suspects and things to newsmen in Port Harcourt on Monday, before handing them over to Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps officials.
Commodore Igbo, represented by NNS Base Operations Officer Commander Sa’id Kabir, stated that the materials, which included 20 gas cylinders, were skillfully placed in a boat to avoid detection by operatives.
Commodore Igbo added, “In accordance with the Chief of Naval Staff’s strategic directive of zero tolerance for crude oil and other petroleum product theft, the Base has been steadfast in carrying out operations to deny oil thieves freedom of action in its Area of Operations.
“As a result, on January 23, 2024, while on normal patrol at Krakrama Creeks, the Base Tactical Response and Assault Squadron intercepted a boat carrying 11 crew members and 10 metal plates, 14 angle iron and 20 gas cylinders.
“The items were carefully concealed in a wooden boat are materials used for the construction of illegal refinery sites in the creeks.
“Further findings revealed that the suspects were conveying the items to Bille general area (Degema Local Government) for the construction of an illegal refining site.”
He noted that further investigation revealed that the arrested suspects were workers used for the construction of the illegal refining site.
“The arrested suspects claimed they were contracted by one Mr John. At the moment, the Base is making concerted efforts to arrest Mr John and other suspects involved in this criminal act,” he said.
He cautioned oil thieves and other criminal elements within Bile and other parts of Rivers State to change their ways, saying “The Base will stop at nothing to ensure they are arrested and brought to justice.
“It is important to state that the Base will not be deterred by blackmail or antics of enemies of the nation against the Nigerian Navy in the discharge of its constitutional duties” while the Base therefore hands over the 11 suspects to the NSCDC for further investigation and prosecution.
Responding after taking delivery of the suspects and the seized items, Deputy Superintendent from the Intelligence and Investigation Department, NSCDC, Monday Lawal, said all the suspects would be subjected to further investigation.
He added that if found culpable, they would be prosecuted.
Lawal stated, “As we are going out of this place (base) to the command we will subject all of them for proper investigation and anybody found culpable of the allegations based on what has been handed over to us would be prosecuted.”