The patrol team of the Nigerian Navy Ship BEECROFT led by its Commander, Kolawole Oguntuga, has arrested a vessel, Motor Tanker SAISNIL II, for suspected crude oil theft in Lagos.
The vessel, flagged St. Vincent & Grenadines, had 11 crew onboard at the time of arrest.
A statement by the Base Information Officer, Nigerian Navy Ship BEECROFT, Hussein Ibrahim, quoted the Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Mustapha Hassan, to have said that the vessel was observed to have turned off its Automatic Identification System, which is an infraction within the nation’s maritime domain.
Mr Hassan, a rear admiral, noted that when the identification system is turned off, it makes it difficult to determine the activities of the vessel. He added that it is during such occasions that illegalities are perpetrated.
He revealed that the discovery necessitated the deployment of Nigeria Navy Ship SOKOTO, which sailed 199 nautical miles to intercept the vessel and moved to Lagos Anchorage.
According to the flag officer, SAISNIL II sailed from Lagos to Port Harcourt to evacuate about 720,000 Litres of crude oil sludge, but the manipulation of its AIS around the ABO field for 48 hours gave rise to a reasonable suspicion of illegalities.
He stated that samples of the product onboard have been taken for analysis and the outcome of the analysis will determine the next line of action.
Mr Hassan said the vessel was open to any agency that wants to get samples onboard for analysis to confirm the product onboard. He stressed that this became necessary because the Nigerian Navy remained resolute in ensuring transparency in its holistic maritime security approach.
He stressed that the successful detection, leveraging technology, and arrest of MT SAISNIL II despite the distance, restates the Navy’s commitment to eradicating crude oil theft within the maritime environment for the economic prosperity of the nation
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