THE Nigerian Navy Ship, NNS Jubilee, Ikot Abasi; Forward Operating Base, Ibaka, and Naval Outpost, Ikuru, Akwa Ibom State, have intercepted two wooden Cotonou boats with 19, 200 litres of product suspected to be illegally refined Automative Gas Oil, AGO.
Speaking on the matter, Saidu Garba, a commodore and the NNS Commander, said in Ikot Abasi today Wednesday, October 5 that four persons suspected to be involved in bunkering were also arrested, based on a tip off from good spirited members of the youth in Ataba community.
The suspects are Solomon Ikpoko, 28; Iwoh Matthew, 39; and Godspower Solomon, 29, all from Andoni in Rivers State. The fourth suspect is Festus Bagbegha, 24, from Burutu, Delta State.
Garba said that the special patrol team of NOP Ikuru raided the creek around Ataba area, which was notorious for sea robbery and in the process, arrested three suspected sea pirates who had allegedly been unleashing terror on the area.
He said: “The arrest took place after the three sea robbers had robbed four women in the creeks who were just returning from their daily trading activities by boat. The robbers collected money and mobile phones from the victims.
“In another development, a combined patrol team of NNS Jubilee and NOP Ikuru arrested four hoodlums involved in illegal oil bunkering. Two wooden Cotonou boats laden with 75 by 250 litres drums and nine by 50 litres jerry cans of product suspected to be illegally refined Automative Gas Oil, were also seized by the Navy.
“These hoodlums and criminals have been thoroughly investigated, or profiled: they would be handed over to the Nigeria Police for prosecution,” he said.
Garba attributed the success of the operation to information sharing and cooperation between the Navy and the Ataba community.
Commodore Garba also reiterated the Nigerian Navy’s commitment to enhancing community relations in the current effort to eliminate all forms of economic sabotage and crime in the maritime domain.
He warned oil theft, illegal bunkering, pipeline vandals, sea robbers and other criminal activities within Akwa Ibom to desist from their nefarious activities and venture into productive businesses.
One of the suspects, Godspower, said he was sent by one Blessing to help take delivery of the AGO. He said: “One woman, Blessing, asked me to help pick the AGO. I haven’t seen her since I was arrested. I feel bad about this. The problem is that there is so much hunger.”
— Oct 5, 2016 @ 18:30 GMT