All the crew members were Nigerians
The Joint Task Force, JTF, operating in the Niger Delta said on Monday that it arrested two suspected vessels, with one carrying 60 thousand metric tonnes of diesel worth N11 billion, off the coast of Bonny Island in Rivers.
The Commander of the 2 Brigade and Sector Two of the JTF, Tukur Buratai,disclosed this in an interview in Port Harcourt on Monday.
Mr. Buratai, a Brigadier General, said the Lagos registered vessels, Lady Theresa and Pecos Peters, had been arrested on October 17 and 18 in Bonny area, respectively. The Lady Theresa vessel contained 60 thousand metric tonnes of diesel which was estimated by one of its crew members to have a street value of N11.3 billion.
Mr. Buratai, who was represented by Gold Chibuisi, a Colonel, said that all the 16 crew members in the two vessels were Nigerians, while investigations were still ongoing on the smugglers
“This badge (Lady Theresa) was arrested transferring substance suspected to be illegally refined diesel. The market that encourages the stealing of crude and refining them illegally must also be stopped and when buyers are reduced, obviously, the urge and reason to steal would reduce.
“Those who take part in oil theft and illegal refining of crude oil to produce adulterated and substandard fuel should desist because in doing so; they will be helping the fight against oil theft,” he said.
Mr. Buratai called on the public to report anyone involved in oil theft and illegal refining of crude oil to security agencies in the state.
Christian Okupe, a captain, who led soldiers during the operation, said the vessels were arrested because they did not have permit to transport petroleum products.
“This particular ship was arrested behind Light House; they claimed they anchored there for a purpose; they were not with a permit.
“Light-House is a famous place that we have been told that that’s where they (illegal marketers) anchored and probably at night move to wherever they are going for their illegal act,” Mr. Okupe said.