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JTF seizes 2 vessels, arrests 17 in Illegal diesel haul

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JTF seizes 2 vessels, arrests 17 in Illegal diesel haul

File: large wooden boat used to convey the illegal 210,000 litres diesel.

Published By: Oluwapelumi Oluwayemi

Seventeen individuals have been apprehended and two vessels loaded with unlawfully refined automotive gas oil (diesel) have been seized by the Joint Task Force, Operation Delta Safe (OPDS) in Rivers State.

Rear Admiral John Okeke, the Commander of OPDS, revealed this information during a press briefing held at Onne, Rivers State, on Wednesday.

The detained individuals were crew members of the seized vessels.

One of the vessels, named MV King James, was found carrying 400,000 litres of diesel, while the other, MV Messiah 1, was transporting 100,000 litres of diesel.

Both vessels were intercepted by OPDS at the Federal Ocean Terminal in Onne, and the crew members were apprehended on the Onne River.

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MV King James was seized along with its seven crew members, while MV Messiah 1 had ten crew members onboard at the time of arrest.

The confiscated petroleum products have been transferred to the Nigerian Navy Ship Pathfinder, and assurances have been given by Okeke that the detained individuals will be handed over to the appropriate authorities for potential prosecution.

Furthermore, it was highlighted that the vessels lacked the necessary approvals and legitimate documentation for transporting the oil products.

“The OPDS which I represent for the navy is the statutory agency for oil approvals. It means that when a vessel is found without requisite documents, it has defaulted,” stated Okeke.

Okeke also urged those involved in oil theft, illegal oil refining, and other illicit activities to cease their actions and pursue legitimate ventures, warning that they will face legal consequences if they continue to operate outside the law.