Navy spokesperson, Commodore Adedotun Olukayode Ayo-Vaughan, disclosed this in a statement, saying the suspects were nabbed at the Forward Operating Base (FOB) Igbokoda in the early hours of Thursday.
Also intercepted by the naval authorities was a 77-meter-long Motor Tanker (MT) VINNALARIS 1 Lagos.
“The vessel had 17 crew members onboard at the time of arrest and was caught engaging in illegal siphoning of crude oil from one of the well heads at EBESAN oil field about 7 nautical miles off the coast of Awoye riverine community in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State,” he stated.
“The apprehension of the vessel was based on credible intelligence received by the Base on the illegal activities of crude oil thieves at the location which informed the swift deployment of FOB IGBOKODA personnel to enforce the arrest of the vessel and her crew.
“Notably, as the anti-Crude Oil Theft Patrol Team of FOB IGBOKODA approached MT VINNALARIS 1 LAGOS, the 2 x boats attached to the vessel fled on sighting the naval personnel which confirmed the engagement of the vessel in illegality.”
The naval spokesman stated that on arrival at the scene, it was discovered that the vessel was actively involved in siphoning crude oil from both sides of the wellhead.
Consequently, upon further search and interrogation, Ayo-Vaughan said it was further discovered that the vessel had onboard 17 crew members of Nigerian nationality.
Noting that the vessel’s storage capacity is about 15,000 metric tonnes and as at the time of arrest, the naval spokesman said it had loaded about 500 Metric tonnes of crude oil.
He noted that the arrest of MT VINNALARIS 1 LAGOS shows the Nigerian Navy’s determination to curb crude oil theft and all manners of illegalities in Nigeria’s maritime domain.
“All criminals and their cohorts are hereby warned that the Nigerian Navy will use all legitimate means at its disposal to track and arrest perpetrators of illegalities in Nigeria’s maritime environment.
“While individuals carrying out legitimate business are advised to go about their legitimate activities, the Nigerian Navy solicits the cooperation of patriotic and well-meaning members of the public to promptly report any form of criminalities, especially in the coastal communities for necessary action,” Ayo-Vaughan said.