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April 15, 2024
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Navy seized a Ghanaian vessel with stolen oil and detained 13 crew members.

The Nigerian Navy Ship Beecroft Operation Delta Sanity, has arrested a Ghana-owned motor tanker, SWEET MIRI involved in suspected crude oil theft.

The vessel was arrested 174 nautical miles off the coast of Nigeria, approximately 320 kilometres, heading to Benin Republic.

According to a statement on Saturday by the NNS Base Information Officer, Lieutenant H Ibrahim, the motor tanker, SWEET MIRI vessel had 13 crew; one Ghanaian and 12 Nigerians, onboard at the time of arrest.

The Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral MB Hassan, was quoted in the statement, as saying that the vessel was carrying about two million litres of the suspected product without approval and had switched off its Automatic Identification System to avoid detection on February 25, 2024.

Hassan also stated that the infraction necessitated the deployment of Ship ABA to investigate the vessel which was later found carrying products suspected to be crude oil, and NNS Sokoto to double up the search and interdict the vessel.

The statement read, “The Nigerian Navy Ship BEECROFT under the strategic leadership of Commodore Kolawole Oguntuga who is also the Maritime Component Commander Operation AWATSE, arrested a vessel, Motor Tanker SWEET MIRI suspected to have been involved in crude oil theft. The vessel had 13 crew, one Ghanaian and 12 Nigerians.

“The MT vessel has been a vessel of interest to the Nigerian Navy and she was arrested 174 nautical miles off the coast of Nigeria, approximately 320 kilometres, heading to the Benin Republic.

“On February 25, 2024, the vessel was observed to have switched off its Automatic Identification System to avoid detection. This necessitated the deployment of the Nigerian Navy Ship ABA to investigate the vessel. Subsequently, she was found carrying products suspected to be crude oil. Thereafter, NNS SOKOTO was deployed to double up the search and interdict the vessel. On arrival, it was discovered that she was carrying about two million litres of the suspected product without approval.”

The FOC further disclosed that the vessel is owned by a Ghanaian and registered in Ghana, adding that the vessel is open to any agency that wants to get samples for analysis to confirm the culpability of the vessel.

“In line with the directive of Chief of the Naval Staff Vice Admiral EI Ogalla, the vessel owned by a Ghanaian and registered in Ghana by a Ghanaian company is opened for other agencies to come and take samples and carry out their independent investigations to find out the culpability of the vessel.”

In the same vein, while giving an update on the earlier arrested Motor Tanker VINNALARIS, the FOC said that the CNS has instructed that the investigations of all arrested vessels should be conducted beyond the level of the crew to uncover the kingpins.

He also appreciated the efforts of the Department of State Services in assisting the Nigerian Navy in conducting investigations when matters of crude oil theft are brought to them.

Recently, Nigeria has experienced numerous incidents of oil theft and illegal refinery operations nationwide.

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