A Motor Tanker vessel identified as SAISNIL II with St. Vincent & Grenadines flag with 11 crew onboard has been arrested for crude oil theft by NNS Beecroft.
Disclosing the arrest in Lagos on Saturday, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Western Naval Command Apapa Rear Admiral Mustapha Hassan said the vessel had turned off its Automatic Identification System (AIS) to perpetrate the crime.
Speaking with journalists onboard the vessel, stated that such act constitute a grievous infraction within the nation’s maritime domain, explaining that the activities of the vessel would not be determined when such systems are turned off and such occasions are when illegalities are perpetrated.
As a result of such infraction, necessitated the deployment of Nigerian Navy Ship SOKOTO, which sailed 199 nautical miles to intercept and returned the vessel to Lagos Anchorage.
According to the Base Information Officer, Lieutenant H Ibrahim,
Nigerian Navy Ship BEECROFT said in a statement that Commander Commodore Kolawole Olumide Oguntuga who also is the Maritime Component Commander Operation AWATSE , arrested a vessel, adding that it was a commendable display of Maritime security prowess by the patrol team of Nigerian Navy Ship BEECROFT.
The Flag Officer further added that, SAISNIL II initially sailed from Lagos Anchorage on 23rd November 2023 to Taraba Jetty in Port Harcourt, Rivers State to evacuate about 720,000 Litres of Crude Oil Sludge but the manipulation of it AIS around ABO Field for over 48 hours gave rise to a reasonable suspicion of illegalities.
He stated that samples of the product onboard has been taken for analysis at the appropriate laboratory and the outcome of the analysis will determine the next line of action.
He further stated that the vessel is opened to any agency that wants to get samples onboard for analysis to confirm the product onboard.
According to him, this became necessary as the Nigerian Navy remains resolute in ensuring transparency towards ensuring holistic maritime security.
The successful detection leveraging technology and arrest of MT SAISNIL II despite the distance from the coast aligns with key priorities of the Strategic Directives of Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ikechukwu Ogalla, Chief of the Naval Staff, emphasizing the Navy’s unweaving commitment to eradicating crude oil theft within the nations maritime environment for economic prosperity of our dear nation.