Asaba – Officials of the Nigerian Navy in Delta State, have destroyed an illegal oil bunkering vessel arrested with stolen crude oil aboard Niger Delta creeks.
The operatives of the newly-contracted private oil pipeline surveillance team, Tantita Security Services, effected the vessel’s arrest alongside its seven-member crew, on October 6, 2022, on the creeks of Escravos, whilst crude oil was being loaded illegally into the ship.
About 600 to 650 cubic metres of illegally lifted crude oil in five compartments was said to be on board the vessel with registration number L85 B9.50 as at the time it was arrested.
The Nigerian Navy personnel set the ill-fated vessel on fire on Warri River at about 3 o’clock on Monday afternoon following confession of the Captain of the ship, Temple Manasseh, that the vessel was actually crude-laden.
In his confession, Manasseh said the operatives of Tantita Security Services actually arrested him and his crew members.
He, however, alleged that his vessel was hijacked by some gunmen who diverted it on the creeks and forcefully loaded crude oil into it.
Manasseh said, “I was arrested in Escravos by Tompolo boys but the alleged stolen crude oil was not loaded by me. My vessel was hijacked by some boys who forced the loaded crude into my ship. I don’t know the hijackers at all.
“But when Tompolo security operatives stormed the scene, they all ran away and abandoned their loading operation which had lasted about two and a half hours.”
Although ,:the Nigerian Navy officials who destroyed the illicit oil vessel would not talk to journalists on the incident, the Marine Intelligence Consultant for Tantita Security Services, Captain Warredi Enisuoh, affirmed that the arrest was as a result of intelligence gathering, explaining that the security men “monitored the space via satellite.”
Enisuoh noted that records showed that the Dutch vessel sold to a Nigerian had been variously “used for moving crude oil illegally for years,” adding that the arrested vessel had scheduled to take the stolen crude to Tema in Ghana.
He expressed delight that “the operation of Tantita Security Services in collaboration with Operation Delta Safe, which is a government and private sector initiative, has yielded positive result leading to the arrest.”
Enisuoh further said, “Tantita actually has intelligence on five vessels. It was the only one (the destroyed vessel) that came in since the security operations started. And the identities of the vessel’s owners have been established.
“Our advice is that the rest should not come near Nigerian waters because if you think Nigeria is not serious, today’s revelation is their answer.”