Nigerian Navy: Fishing trawlers now converted to tankers for oil theft
BY SEGUN JAMES
Yenagoa -- The Nigerian Navy has exposed how unscrupulous Nigerians and their foreign collaborators are now converting fishing trawlers into oil tankers for illegal bunkering in the Niger Delta region.
The converted ships, according to the Navy, now venture into the creeks and rivers in the Niger Delta, disguised as fishing trawlers, to lift stolen crude oil. Naval patrol teams on routine patrol, that intercepted such trawlers, found stolen crude, instead of fish, in all the vessels captured.
The authorities of the Nigerian Navy, through the Command Operations Officer, Central Naval Command, Commodore Emmanuel Enemor, disclosed that the confession, obtained from the captain of one of the seized vessels, demonstrating that fishing trawlers were now being converted to motor tankers, for the purpose of illegal bunkering.
According to Enemor, the captain of the seized vessel, MV DALAL, caught last week, confessed to the illegal lifting of 120,000 l of diesel from illegal refineries at the Akassa creeks in the state. He lamented that the oil thieves had devised new ways of carrying out the illegal act, without the knowledge of the security operatives, by converting fishing trawlers to oil tankers.
Enemor said the naval operatives intercepted the vessel while on patrol off the coast of Brass, following suspicions that the ship was loaded with illegal diesel. It was also discovered that the vessel was operated under a registered name and license of Solabaster Oil and Gas Limited, in Lagos.
At the time of the arrest, the vessel did not have Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) bunkering permit, a ship' s log, Naval approval or a certificate of the Joint Task Force (JTF), Operation Pulo Shield.
The operation officer said the suspects were transferred to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, after a brief event at the command' s headquarters on Saturday in Yenago. The anti-graft agency was expected to carry out further investigations and prosecution of the suspects, while the Navy would retain custody of the vessel until the conclusion of the case.
In addition to the territorial waters, Exclusive Economic Zone and the high seas, Enemor named other water boundaries that were of concern to the Navy in the war against sea crime as: Brass River, Nun River and St. Nicholas River. Others include the Santa Barbara River, Sambreiro River, Middleton River, Akassa Creek and Furupa community.