Nigerian Navy Takes Swift Action, Apprehends Motor Tanker VINNALARIS 1 LAGOS in Connection with Crude Oil Theft

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The Nigerian Navy Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Igbokoda, Ondo, successfully detected and apprehended a 77-meter-long Motor Tanker (MT) named VINNALARIS 1 LAGOS. The operation took place around 10:00 pm, and by the early hours of Thursday, December 7, at approximately 3:00 am, the vessel, engaged in illegal activities, was under naval custody.

The MT VINNALARIS 1 LAGOS was caught red-handed siphoning crude oil from a wellhead at the EBESAN oil field, situated about 7 nautical miles off the coast of Awoye riverine community in Ilaje Local Government Area, Ondo State. Credible intelligence prompted the swift deployment of FOB Igbokoda personnel to address the reported illegal activities.

As the anti-crude Oil Theft Patrol Team approached the vessel, two boats attached to MT VINNALARIS 1 LAGOS attempted to escape upon sighting the naval personnel, providing further confirmation of the vessel’s illicit actions. Upon arrival at the scene, it was discovered that the vessel was actively involved in siphoning crude oil from both sides of the wellhead. Subsequent search and interrogation revealed the presence of 17 Nigerian crew members onboard the vessel. The MT VINNALARIS 1 LAGOS, with a storage capacity of approximately 15,000 metric tonnes, had loaded about 500 metric tonnes of crude oil at the time of arrest.

The arrest underscores the Nigerian Navy’s commitment to combating crude oil theft and illegal activities within Nigeria’s maritime domain. The Navy issues a stern warning to criminals and their associates, emphasizing the use of all legitimate means to track and apprehend perpetrators of maritime illegalities. Legitimate business operators are advised to carry out their activities within the bounds of the law. The Nigerian Navy seeks the cooperation of the public, urging prompt reporting of criminal activities, especially in coastal communities, for necessary action.

Additionally, there are suspicions of involvement by the Tantita Security Service (TSS) in these illegal activities, as the Awoye riverine area, close to the place of arrest, falls under their coverage. However, the Nigerian Navy dismisses TSS’s false alarms as baseless and mischievous. Despite such claims, the Navy remains steadfast in fulfilling its constitutional mandate to protect Nigeria’s maritime environment for national economic development and prosperity.

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