The Nigerian Navy says it has uncovered an illegal oil bunkering site at the government-owned Ship Builders Yard facility in Port Harcourt.
Commodore Sanusi Ibrahim, the Commander of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder, Port Harcourt, who took journalists to the illegal site on Sunday, said five suspects were arrested at the scene.
He said naval troops were immediately deployed to the site at Makoba Beach, shortly after a whistle blower revealed the location of the illegal site.
“Following intelligence tip-off, we raided the area and discovered seven different storage facilities in a secret make-shift facility at the Ship Builders Yard, very close to Ibeto cement and NPA.
“During investigation, we discovered illegal activities which involved bunkering of illegally refined petroleum products and lifting of diesel on to wooden boats, trucks and tanker trucks.
“Several drums loaded with stolen diesel and two trucks waiting to load petroleum products among other equipment were seen at the site.
“Five suspects, including a driver and three conductors of the trucks, were arrested while others fled the scene on sighting advancing naval operatives,” he said.
Represented by Sunday Haruna, the NNS Pathfinder Base Operation Officer, Mr. Ibrahim said investigations were ongoing to identify sources of the products and those who patronise the site. He said that the suspects were currently being questioned in order to identity the operators of the site and how they carried out the illicit business without detection.
“Navy operatives are currently trailing some individuals who have been identified as sponsors and owners of the illegal bunkering site,” he said.
Mr. Ibrahim, while urging oil thieves to desist from sabotage of oil and gas installations, gave an assurance that the navy would continue with its 24- hour patrol and community-based intelligence gathering strategy.
The commander called on the public to continue to provide the navy and other security agencies with timely information to enable it rid the region of oil thieves and pipeline vandals.