The Nigerian Navy said it impounded 87, 500 litres of diesel worth N14.4 million while on routine patrol of Isaka creek in Rivers.
The navy said it also arrested seven men conveying the product.
The Commander of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder, Commodore Godwin Ochai, handed over the suspects to operatives of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) on Friday in Port Harcourt.
He said the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Adm. Usman Jibrin, had ordered strategic deployment of troops on waterways to stop recurrent attacks on the nation’s oil installations.
“In furtherance of the CNS zero tolerance for crude oil theft and other economic crimes; our troops, while on routine patrol, arrested seven suspects with 250 drums of refined diesel at Isaka waterway.
“The CNS has reiterated his commitment to stop illegal bunkering, and as such, NNS Pathfinder has keyed into the CNS’ vision to rid the nation of oil thieves, pipeline vandals and sea pirates,” he said.
Ochai added that the navy would continue to conduct 24-hour surveillance of the waterways in its bid to stop illegal oil bunkering in the country.
The commander warned oil thieves, pipeline vandals and sea pirates to keep off the country’s oil installations or face the wrath of his men.
Ochai urged members of the public to provide the military with timely information that would lead to the arrest of oil thieves and pipeline vandals.
The Deputy Commandant of NSCDC in Rivers, Olowoyotan Bamidele, while receiving the suspects, said the command would conduct thorough investigation to unravel the source of the petroleum product.
He assured that the suspects would be prosecuted to serve as deterrent to others.
Douglas Belibowei, the leader of the suspects, claimed that they were contracted by an unnamed person to convey the diesel.
Belibowei said he was not aware of the content of the drums before they were arrested.