Benin Republic arrest Nigerian oil-bunkering vessel, 4 suspects

A vessel and four persons were last Tuesday arrested by Benin Republic authorities after a failed attempt to illegally export about 35,000 metric tons of crude oil believed smuggled from Nigeria.

Luck ran out on the quartet suspected to be Nigerian representatives of an oil-theft ring in the West African sub-region.

The ship, laden with crude oil presumed stolen from the Niger Delta, was said to have broken down on the high seas midway into its ill-fated journey.

It was not immediately clear where the ship and its crew were heading when the incident occurred but Beninoise coastal guards arrested the suspects at Zone de Ambassad/Leobelle located off the coast line of Cotonou, according to Canal 3, the Beninoise state television station.

Sources said the ship attracted attention when it lost its engines on the high seas for about a week.

Following reports by residents to security operatives that the ship was an endangered, naval gendarme on routine surveillance in the area reportedly moved into the ship to rescue it and its crew.

Once on aboard the ship, the naval guards arrested the four suspects, and on interrogation, they reportedly failed to provide satisfactory explanations concerning the crude oil consignment they were carrying and the destination they were heading.

Following the arrest of the four suspects, the Benin Republic authorities has since mobilized the deployment of about 26 trucks to transfer the crude oil from the stranded ship, which has been floating on the seas for days.