The Nigerian Navy has said it had impounded a large vessel, MT Breakthrough, for allegedly transporting 4,574 metric tons (5.790 million litres) of crude oil.
The Executive Officer of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder, Port Harcourt, Capt. Victor Choji, told newsmen on Friday that the crude oil was suspected to have been stolen from pipelines in Niger Delta.
He said that the 11 sailors were arrested on board the vessel.
According to Choji , the vessel has been on the Navy watch list for suspicious activities over time before the seizure.
“On Jan. 12, MT Breakthrough was arrested by our troops onboard naval patrol gunboats on Dutch Island for suspicious illegal bunkering activities.
“The vessel which has been under our surveillance for switching off its automatic identification system – to hide its location- was carrying 4,574 metric tons (5,790 million litres) of crude oil.
“The vessel which was shipping crude oil illegally had 11 all-male crew members of Nigerian nationality onboard the vessel,” he said.
Choji said the Navy had increased its tempo to make it difficult for criminals to steal crude or sabotage the nation’s oil and installations.
“Investigation would reveal where the vessel was transporting the product to; where it was sourced and who the sponsors are.
“It is on this note that we are handing over the crew members and vessel to EFCC to further unravel details of activities of the suspected illegal shipment,” he said.
Choji said that the personnel of NNS Pathfinder would continue to carry out 24-hour patrol of the waterways and creeks, while maintaining presence at flash points.
A senior officer of the EFCC, Musa Gidado, said the commission would conduct speedy investigation on the matter.
Gidado said that the suspects would be arraigned if found culpable of the allegations against them.