Any vessel caught without valid papers or laden with stolen oil will be siezed, the Flag Officer, in charge of Naval Central Command, Yenagoa, Rear Admiral Sidi-Ali Usman has warned.
Admiral Usman gave the warning while clearing circumstances surrounding the controversial Vessel grounded at Odioma Water way in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
According to the Flag Officer the grounded vessel, MV LILA and tug ,MV? St. VICTORIA have been impounded? by a Naval gun boat ,NNS BOMADI? at Odioama along St. Nicholas river in Brass local government of the state saying that six persons who tried to remove its contents were arrested.
Speaking to journalists last Wednesday, Usman affirmed that? operatives of the Forward Operation Base FORMOSO were? making relentless efforts to ensure the barge was salvaged from its present position.
“On August 10, at about 18.25,a Naval team on routine patrol was attracted to a suspected barge movement from Odioama to St.St. Nicholas river. On approaching the self-propelled barge ,it was discovered to have gone aground.The barge was identified as MV LILA.”It would recalled that the Chief of Naval Staff ,Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba has repeatedly affirmed his zero tolerance for oil theft and related criminalities in the maritime domain,”he said.
Usman revealed that five vessels linked with illegal oil bunkering in the state have been impounded in the past two months ,stressing that more arrests would be effected by the Navy.
He said:”This would prevent the likelihood of oil spill and consequential damage to the environment .Similarly ,investigations into the source of the suspected stolen product in the barge has since commenced.
“That barge must gone aground when they were making efforts to get it,but they were not aware that part of our strategy is also to contain this illicit activities from the seaward end.So when we noticed this ,we tasked the unit over there to contain the activity and on the process we found this barge abandoned.As I speak some of our men are mounting surveillance there.It is in the course of the surveillance that we arrested this tug.The tug actually came to retrieve the grounded barge over there,”Usman explained.
Continuing:”Somebody must have contracted the tug ,the owner who uses his tug to come and retrieve his property.It would have been a different game if we were not able to lay hand on anybody.We were not deceived even with the abandonment we quickly instructed that they should be within the area ,that it was not a ghost that brought the barge there .”
Usman warned that illegal oil vessels without valid documents plying the waterways of the state would be Impounded? when they are sighted by Naval operatives patrolling the area.
His words:”We are using this opportunity to sound as a note of warning to illegal oil bunkerers ,they are not supposed to be there.The required papers for them to be there,we will arrest any of those vessels so sighted .Even as I speak now we have arrested? some vessels 5 while investigations continue.More arrests is still coming ,we are unrelenting .
“Our strategy is of three fold ,we will go after them in the creeks,also the areas where they carry out illegal refineries.If they are sighted we will destroy them,we patrol at the seaward end of the creeks.Any vessel of opportunities? that is sighted there would be impounded.Any vessel without clearance papers will be seized.I hope vessels coming this way will comply.There is no room for illegalities in the sea ,we can’t tolerate it any further ,”he noted.