A medium size ocean going vessel, identified as MT TURA II, alleged to have been scooping crude oil from Nigeria’s oil facility in the Niger Delta has been arrested by a joint military patrol.
It was learnt that the vessels had been engaged in crude oil theft for the last 13years and she’s being used by a cartel that specializes in stealing crude oil from Niger Delta and transporting it to neighboring countries.
Also arrested during a Joint Military Operation with members of Tantita Pipeline Surveillance Security Outfit, were 12 crew members on board the vessel, made up of eleven (11) Nigerian and one (1) Ghanaian alongside 150,000 metric tons of stolen crude that had been siphoned.
Militarynewsng.com learnt that the vessel which was built in Turkey in 1965 with a storage capacity of 500,000 metric tons, was first registered under the name ‘Ali Riza Bey’ in Togo and find its way to Nigerian waterways since 2012 when its allegedly resumed illegal bunkering operations conveying stolen crudes to Ghana, Cameroon and Togo and offloading to other vessels.
The impounded vessel was reported to have had the history of changing identities after being arrested and allegedly resuming its illegal operations along the waterways due to the influence of the powerful cartel operating it within the nation’s maritime space.
It’s latest name, MT Tura II, was said to have been incorporated in all the global satellite networks on shipping but was not registered by any federal government agency but had been operating within the nation’s territorial waters for over a decade.
Speaking with newsmen during the parade of the vessel at Oporoza, in Warri South West Locsl Government area of Delta state, the Commander, Joint Task Force, South South Operations, Delta Safe, Rear Admiral Olusegun Ferreira, described the arrest as one of the success story in the ongoing synergy between the military and Tantita Security operatives.
He noted that the military under the present dispensation was more than ever determined in ensuring that illegal bunkering activities along the Niger Delta creeks and the high sea was reduced to its nearest minimum, if not completely eradicated in the region.
He called for more cooperation with the locals along the nation’s waterways in the area of divulging information to the security agencies on the activities of these criminal elements in their areas, adding that such information goes a long way in making the military and other sister agencies be well informed on how to combat the ugly menace of oil theft in our creeks.
Meanwhile, he assured that the investigation into the arrest of MT Tura II, had commenced in earnest and those arrested would be further scrutinized for the role the played in the crime.
Addressing newsmen on the arrest, Captain Warredi Enisuoh, Executive Director, Technical and Operations, Tantita Security, disclosed that the arrest was made possible through both physical and scientific methodology approach adopted by his team in unraveling the identity and mission of the vessel to the very location.
He disclosed that the coordinate made available to them during satellite network search sometimes fails and that’s why the relied more on physical information from individuals Which usually gives them accurate intel they work with mostly in getting results.
On the fate of the suspects arrested on board the vessel, he explained that his team are considering the option of giving them soft landing because they have been of great assistance in the ongoing investigations.
“We, when i say we, am talking about myself and my team in Tantita Security, are considering soft landing for the suspects because they have cooperated with us a lot during the investigations and we intend to make a case for them”.
But as the military said, their investigation still continues in the matter and we want to wait till they conclude investigations then we can determine our next line of action on them”, he stated.
Speaking with newsmen during interviews, the Captain of the vessel, who identified himself as Odubiyi Samson, claimed ignorant of the operation as he joined the company only last year, adding that this was his first voyage after he became an employee.
“I am new in the organization. I only joined them last year and this is my first outing as a Captain. Some hired the vessel and I was assigned to handle the operation, I never knew the mission of the person that hired the vessel and I was only carrying out my duty”, he stated.