In continuation of effort to check cases of oil bunkering and sea pirates in the Niger Delta region, men of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Jubilee Ikot Abasi, Forward Operating Base, FOB Ibaka and Naval Out Post, NOP Ikuru, in Akwa Ibom State, have intercepted two wooden Cotonou boats laden with 19,200 litres of product suspected to be illegally refined Automotives Gas Oil (AGO).
Addressing journalists on Wednesday at Ikot Abasi, Commodore Saidu Garba, said four hoodlums involved in illegal bunkering were arrested based on a tip off from good spirited members of the youth in Ataba community.
The suspects are Solomon Ikpoko, 28, from Andoni Local Council, Rivers state; Iwoh Matthew, 39, from Andoni Local Council, Rivers state; Godspower Solomon, 29, from Andoni in Rivers state and Festus Bagbegha, 24, from Burutu in Delta state.
According to commander Garba, the special patrol team of NOP Ikuru raided the creek around Ataba area which he said was notorious for sea robbery and in the process arrested three sea robbers who had been terrorizing and unleashing terror on innocent citizens and maritime commuters.
He said: “The arrest took place after the three sea robbers had robbed four women in the creeks who were just returning from their daily trade activities by boat. The robbers collected monies and handsets from the victims.
“In another development, a combined patrol team of NNS Jubilee and NOP Ikuru alsoarrested four hoodlums involved in illegal oil bunkering.
Two wooden Cotonou boats laden with 75 by 250 litres drums and 9 by 50 litres jerry cans of product suspected to be illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) were recovered from them.
“These hoodlums and criminals have been thoroughly investigated, profiled and would be handed over to the Nigeria Police for prosecution.”
The Commander noted that the achievements were made possible through information sharing and cooperation between the Navy and the Ataba community.
Commodore Garba also reiterated the Nigerian Navy’s commitment to enhancing community relations in the current effort to eliminate all forms of economic sabotage and crime in the maritime domain.
He warned oil theft, illegal bunkering, pipeline vandals, sea robbers and other criminal activities within Akwa Ibom to desist from their nefarious activities and venture into productive businesses.
One of the suspects, Godspower, who spoke with our correspondent, claimed that he was sent by one Blessing to help take delivery of the AGO.
“One woman Blessing asked me to help pick the AGO. I haven’t seen her since I was arrested. I feel bad about this. The problem is that there is so much hunger,” he stated.