BY GABRIEL OKECHUKWU, PORT HARCOURT
Nigerian Navy has arrested MT QUEEN OF PEACE, a vessel that has been under surveillance for over a year.
The vessel was last seen around Trans Amadi Jetty before its’ Automatic Identification System, AIS, was switched off as the vessel embarked on dark activities for about three weeks but it was intercepted at South West of Bonny, where it was arrested.
The Director of Information Nigerian Navy, Commodore Kayode Ayo-Vaughan who confirmed the arrest in a statement revealed that fourteen crew members of the vessel laden with crude oil were equally arrested.
“The dark activities of the vessel was monitored by the Nigerian Navy Falcon Eye Surveillance System and Nigerian Navy Ship EKULU was detached from the Exercise OBANGAME to intercept and arrest the vessel.”
“Subsequent interrogation revealed that the vessel with 14 crew members onboard was laden with unspecified quantity of crude oil”.
“Additionally, the vessel was unable to provide appropriate documentation from the point of loading as well as documents and authority of her intended operations”.
“These therefore led to the arrest of the vessel and she is currently at Nigerian Navy Forward Operating Base BONNY for further investigation and possible hand-over for prosecution”.
The D-Info Nigerian Navy in the same vein, confirmed the arrest of another vessel, MOTOR TANKER (MT) HARBOR SPIRIT, for engaging in suspected illegal activities with thirteen crew men all Nigerians on board, and has been handed over to Forward Operating Base Bonny for further investigation.
The Director of Information Nigerian Navy described the arrest as part of the gains of Exercise Obangame Express 2022, the Largest Multinational Maritime Operation with about thirty two African countries participating at different zones within the Gulf of Guinea.
He said that during the Exercise also, seven Beninoise were arrested while conveying drums of suspected Automatic Gas Oil, AGO, from questionable sources in a big wooden boat and confiscated the boat.
Similarly, Commodore Ayo-Vaughan confirmed Nigerian Navy Ship, NNS Patfinder, Port Harcourt, arrested and handed over to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, five suspected vandals alongside a barge and Tug boat loaded with unspecified quantity of adulterated petroleum products.
“Exercise OBANGAME EXPRESS 2022 has also seen the arrest of seven Beninoise in a long wooden boat fully loaded with unspecified petroleum products from questionable sources”.
” It would be recalled that the Exercise is the largest multinational maritime exercise in West Africa with 32 countries participating in their respective maritime area from 11-18 March 2022.”.
According to the Navy Director of Information, the arrests are evidences of Nigerian Navy’s stance against oil theft and other maritime crimes.