Suspected smugglers abandon 70,000 litres of stolen diesel in Rivers
NEWS DIGEST -The Nigerian Navy on Thursday said that it had impounded about 70,000 litres of a substance suspected to be illegally refined and adulterated diesel abandoned by suspected oil thieves on the run.
Capt. Victor Choji, the Executive Officer of Nigerian Navy Ship Pathfinder, presented the seized diesel and a barge to journalists in Port Harcourt.
According to him, naval troops discovered the abandoned petroleum product stored inside a barge, Mudiaga V, at Isaka river in Okirika Local Government Area.
“Our patrol elements deployed for anti-illegal bunkering and crude oil theft intercepted the barge, Mudiaga V, with about 70,000 litres of suspected illegally refined diesel on Dec. 20.
“No suspect was found on the barge as at the time of seizure. The barge and petroleum product have been in our custody in line with extant regulations,” he said.
Choji said that operators of the barge may have fled the area on sighting the advancing naval gun boats.
The naval officer said that investigators decided to prolong investigation to allow owners of the abandoned diesel and barge to come forward and lay claim to it.
“Unfortunately, this has not happened, and no one or group has come forward to lay claim to the barge and petroleum product.
“Therefore, in line with the laws of the land, I have been directed to hand over the seizure to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for further investigation and necessary action,” he said.
Choji added that the vessel’s abandonment indicated progress in the fight against criminality in the nation’s maritime environment.
He said the navy was fully focused to end theft of crude oil and vandalism of critical oil and gas infrastructure in the Niger Delta.
Choji said that this commitment was evidenced with the current reduction in the activities of illegal oil refiners, sea robbery, piracy and other forms of criminality on the waterways.
A Senior Detective at EFCC, Bashir Mustapha, said that full scale investigation would be launched to unravel the owners of the barge and source of the petroleum product.
He said that any individual or group found culpable in the crime would have their day in court.
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