Navy Arrests Ghanaian Rogue Ship With Two Million Litres of Crude Oil

The Nigerian Navy over the weekend, has said it arrested a Ghanaian rogue ship with two million litres of crude oil amd a syndicate of 13 crew members, one Ghanaian and 12 Nigerians, on board a Ghanaian owned/registered vessel, Motor Tanker (MT) SWEET MIRI on February 25, 2024.

This was just as it was disclosed that the Office of the Inspector General of Police (IG) has secured the forfeiture of two multi-million-naira vessels arrested for illegal oil bunkering. The vessels to be forfeited are MT Harbour Spirit and MT Kali.

Furthermore, the Navy disclosed that the arrest of the Ghanaian rogue ship was the outcome of its newly launched ‘Operation Delta Sanity’.

A statement issued by the Spokesman of the Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Ayo-Vaughan, said the arrest of the economic saboteurs, who were bent on stealing the nation’s natural resources was made at about 174 nm (approximately 320km) off Nigeria’s coast heading towards Benin Republic, after the vessel was observed to have switched off her Automatic Identification System (AIS) in a bid to evade detection.

“The infraction by the vessel contravenes the International Ships and Port Security Code (ISPS) and she was tagged a “Vessel of Interest” (VoI) by the Nigerian Navy.

“The NN Maritime Domain Awareness infrastructure observed the criminal intent of the vessel and subsequently vectored two NN ships on patrol to interrogate the vessel and it was discovered that MT SWEET MIRI was involved in illegalities and the vessel was subsequently arrested”, it said.

“Curiously, the suspicious disposition of the vessel necessitated the swift deployment of Nigerian Navy Ship ABA and Nigerian Navy Ship SOKOTO to intercept the vessel.

“Notably, upon arrest, MT SWEET MIRI was found carrying about two million litres of product suspected to be crude oil without any form of approval from relevant authorities,” it stated.

The statement further affirmed that in line with the directive of Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, for an in-depth and independent investigation, relevant approving/prosecuting agencies were notified for samples collection and in order to further ascertain the culpability or otherwise of the vessel.

It said this was necessary to unmask the enemies of the nation and to institute holistic and detailed investigations.

“Be rest assured that the Nigerian Navy through the reinvigorated Operation Delta Sanity will continue to collaborate with relevant maritime, security and law enforcement agencies in order  to closely monitor, evaluate and interdict where infractions are suspected so as to bring economic saboteurs to book in line with relevant extant laws of the land,” it added.

IG’s Office Secures Forfeiture of Vessel Arrested by Navy, Tantita Security Services, Others

Meanwhile, the Office of the IG of Police has secured the forfeiture of two multi-million-naira vessels arrested for illegal oil bunkering.

The vessels were MT Harbour Spirit and MT Kali.

The IG’s office which secured the forfeiture order from the Federal High Court also secured the forfeiture of content of the two vessels to the Federal Government.

According to a statement, a combined team of security men comprising Navy, the Nigerian Police, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, and prominent private security outfit, Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited (TSSNL), had arrested the two vessels while they were siphoning illegal crude oil in the creeks of the Niger Delta,

Two Federal High Courts, in different sittings in Abuja, had ordered the forfeiture of MT Kali and MT Harbor Spirit, to the federal government.

While Justice J.K. Omotosho, had granted the order on the forfeiture of the MT Harbour and Spirit and its content be forfeited to the federal government.

In the case filed by the Inspector General of Police, Mr Kayode Egbetokun, Justice Abdulmalik granted the motion for the interim forfeiture of MT Kali & her content to the government.

Justice Omotosho ruled that the federal government should hold the MT Harbour and Spirit   and its content for six to await when anybody would show why the forfeiture should not be made permanent.

The Judge also ordered the sale of the stolen crude oil contained in the impounded ocean-going vessel by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL).

The Justice further directed that the proceeds from the sale be deposited by NNPCL in an interest yielding account to be determined by the Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court.

A certified true copy of the order showed that the court directed that an affidavit of compliance with its order be filled before it within 72 hours after the sale of the confiscated petroleum products contained in the ship.

The MT Harbour was arrested through concerted efforts of Tantita Security Services Limited, and the Special Task Force set up by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admial Emmanuel Ogalla.

The MT Kali was arrested with 20 crew and accomplices from the communities while siphoning crude oil from Pennington Oil field of the Anglo-Dutch energy giant, Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Bayelsa State, on January 11, 2024

The combined team of Tantita operatives and the Navy arrested the MT Harbor Spirit on February 4th, 2024 while the arrest of MT Kali was ongoing.

Kingsley Nwezeh