25th May, 2012
The Nigerian Navy in Lagos has handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) the vessel, MT Takoradi, it recently seized for allegedly engaging in illegal oil bunkering.
The MT Takoradi and her 11-member crew, including the Capt. Musa Mohammed, and Chief Engineer Otuagoma Freeborn, were arrested for allegedly conveying one million litres of automotive gas oil (AGO) or diesel without Navy clearance as stipulated in bunkering regulations.
While handing over the ship, the Commander, NNS Beecroft, Commodore Martins Njoku, said that the MT Takoradi was arrested by the NNS Thunder while on patrol duty on the sea.
Subsequently, the impounded vessel was handed over to the NNS Beecroft at Lagos Anchorage and was immediately boarded by six armed Navy personnel to ensure her safety, pending the outcome of investigations.
Njoku explained that preliminary investigations revealed that the MT Takoradi was initially handled by Greeks until it was handed over to the Nigerian crew on December 10, 2011, at Lagos Anchorage where it remained until January 21, 2012, till she was sailed by the charterer, NEPS Nigeria Limited to Pennington.
Njoku said: “Thus the charterer failed to obtain NN clearance before carrying out the operation, thereby contravening the Federal Government order to obtain clearance from Nigerian Navy to bunker.”
While receiving the vessel, Head, Counter-Terrorism and General Investigation, EFCC Lagos Office, Mr. Aminu Aliu, said that evacuation would be carried out later when all arrangements are complete.
He promised that justice will be done, adding that the EFCC would investigate fully to ascertain if the bunkering was illegal or not.
“We are very happy at the arrest and we are ready to work with Navy to find solution to corruption that is battling the nation’s economy,” Aliu said.
On measures to be taken, Aliu declined to speak further, saying that they would not want to pre-empt investigations by disclosing the modus operandi.
Meanwhile, the Navy has said that it arrested three young men who allegedly had stowed away on a South American bound vessel from one of the jetties at Apapa, Lagos.