At least 31 suspects of oil theft have been arraigned during a raid by the Nigerian Naval officials who also confiscated a total of 2000 drums used for transporting and distributing the products believed to be gotten from the illegally refined crude oil in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital.
This was disclosed on Thursday, November 6, 2014, by the commander of the Nigeria Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder, Commodore Godwin Ochai, while he handed the suspects over to the operatives of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) in Port Harcourt
According to reports, Ochai, who was represented at the handing by Leiutenant-Commodore Abdullateef Mahmud, explained that troops stormed the area after it got intelligence report of activities of oil thieves, who hid under the cover of the busy Slaughter Market to carry out their illegal activities.
He further disclosed that nine wooden and speed boats were also seized by the Navy during the process.
He added, “Based on intelligence and timely report that suspected crude oil thieves were operating in this area; troops stormed the area in our mandate to stop attacks on the nation’s oil installations.
“On Wednesday, at about 0430 hours, we raided Slaughter area and impounded about 200 drums containing suspected by-product of illegally refined crude oil.
“We also impounded about 2, 000 empty drums used for distribution and transporting of products, and nine wooden and speed boats used for their illegal business. After the raid, we were able to arrest 31 male suspects involved in oil theft and bunkering.”
He further reiterated the Navy’s resolve to continue with its 24-hour surveillance of the waterways to ensure that oil theft, pipeline vandalism and sea piracy,are nipped in the bud.
Ochai also called on the general public to always avail them with useful information on any suspicious activities that undermine the maritime safety and the economy of the country.
In reaction to the development, the head of NSCDC Intelligence and Investigation Unit, Henry Nwaorie, assured that the corps will swing into full investigation of the case after which the suspects would be brought to book if found guilty.