The Nigerian Navy says it has impounded five vessels and two metallic barges illegally transporting 1,690 metric tons of diesel, in an operation in Rivers State.
Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Victor Adedipe, said on Thursday that the command had handed over the vessels, barges and 76 suspects to prosecuting security agencies in Onne, Rivers State.
The 76 all-male crew members on board the vessels were received by operatives of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corp and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Adedipe said the vessels: MT Anino, MT Rockfish, MT Blessed, MT Mona I, and MT Leadership were seized at different locations in the state.
The commander said troops on routine patrol caught MT Anino towing a barge with undisclosed quantity of petroleum product suspected to be illegally refined diesel.
“On May 29, MT Anino was caught in the act operating side-by-side with a barge which was filled up with undisclosed quantity of petroleum product suspected to have been stolen.
“No fewer than 26 all-male crew members who were on board the vessel were detained,” he said.
Adedipe said that troops on March 24 impounded MT Rockfish with 70 metric tons of diesel while MT Blessed laden with about 880 metric tons of diesel was seized on March 31.
He disclosed that MT Mona I was caught on April 20 with 740 tons of diesel while MT Leadership was caught towing a barge with undisclosed quantity of product believed to be diesel.
“MT Blessed had seven crew members on board; MT Rockfish eight and MT Mona I had nine crew members at the time of their seizures.
“A total of 76 all-male crew members from the vessels had been in our custody providing interrogators useful information on the source of the products.
“We have been able to conduct volumetric and forensic analysis of the petroleum product which determined that the signature did not fit into NNPC standard,” he said.