Navy Captain Mohammed Adamu addressing journalists
BY GABRIEL OKECHUKWU, FRCN PORT HARCOURT
The confiscated Very Large Crude carrier, MT HEROIC IDUM, has been released to the owners after a plea Bargain and subsequent fine as well as restitution to the Federal Government.
The Commander Forward Operating Base Bonny, Navy Captain Mohammed Adamu who performed the hand over on behalf of Nigerian Navy at thirty nautical Miles offshore Bonny Rivers State, warned that illegal oil activities can no longer be condoned within Nigerian maritime domain.
The arrest and Return of Very Large Crude carrier, MT HEROIC IDUM from Equatorial Guinea to Nigeria by Nigerian Navy about seven months ago was sequel to it’s illegal entrance into Akpo Oil field on the seventh of August 2022, but escaped when she was accosted by Nigerian Navy inshore patrol craft NNS Gongola.
Consequent upon this, the motor tanker with capacity of about three million litres and her twenty-six foreign national crew members were prosecuted by the Federal government at Federal High Court Port Harcourt for unlawful entrance into Akpo oil field, false pirate attack alarm and intention to lift oil without authorization.
Having pleaded guilty to the offences as charged, the vessel and her crew members voluntarily entered into plea bargain with Federal Republic of Nigeria and pledged to fulfill the conditions of the Court.
Addressing Journalists while handing over the vessel at Offshore Bonny, the Commanding Officer, Forward Operating Base Bonny, Navy Captain Mohammed Adamu revealed that the release of the vessel was based on the fulfillment of the stipulated conditions.
“Accordingly, after the conviction of MT HEROIC IDUN and sentencing by the Court, in line with the agreed terms, the MT HEROIC IDUN and its owners were to pay conviction fines and restitution to the FGN and make an apology to the Federal Republic of Nigeria in print and electronic media as well as Llyod’s List.”
“On its part, the Federal Government agreed not to further criminally prosecute and/or investigate the vessel, her owners, charterers or her crew in the matter of her crime against the State. All these being the conditions of the plea bargain without which the VLCC and its crew would not be released.”
“Accordingly, the owners of the vessel apologized to the FGN on the LLOYDS List on 12 May 2023 and same apology was published in the Punch Newspaper”
Navy Captain Adamu who described the arrest and prosecution of the vessel as part of the determination of the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo to combat oil theft at the highest level, warned that Nigerian Navy would deal ruthlessly with any person or group engaging in illegal oil deals within Nigerian maritime environment.
“Consequent upon this development, maritime stakeholders, key players and seafarers operating within Nigerian waters are enjoined and warned to carefully conduct their operations and maritime related activities within extant regulations and with due observance of the law.”
“The Nigerian Navy will not fail to bring to book those whose operation infringe on the provisions of the SPOMO Act and all maritime laws and conventions acceded to by the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
“The Navy under the able leadership of the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo CFR shall continue to work in synergy with other Maritime Law Enforcement Agencies, navies of the Gulf of Guinea states and strategic partners of Nigeria to ensure that Nigeria derives the maximum benefit from its natural resources in her vast maritime area.”
Reacting to the development, Captain of MT Heroic Idum, Mr. Danuj Metah expressed joy that they have been set free alongside the vessel.
Captain Metah who acknowledged fair treatment, appreciated Nigerian Navy for following laid down procedures throughout the entire process.