The Nigerian Navy has impounded five barges laden with about 12.8 million litres of petroleum product suspected to be adulterated diesel, an official has said.
Rear Admiral David Adeniran, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Eastern Naval Command, told newsmen in Onne on Friday that two suspects were arrested in connection with the alleged crime.
Adeniran said naval troops acting on intelligence trailed the five metallic barges to Yellow Platform in Onne general area before they were intercepted and two men arrested.
“Troops in the early hours of Thursday during routine patrol and acting on credible intelligence intercepted five large metallic barges carrying petroleum product.
“The barges laden with products suspected to be illegally refined diesel were intercepted at Onne general area and two male suspects were arrested.’’
He said the seizure was in compliance with the Chief of Naval Staff’s directives to free the waterways and creeks of illegal bunkers, pipeline vandals, sea pirates and robbers.
“Our patrol team on boarding the barges discovered that four out of the five barges were laden with products that may have been lifted from illegal refining sites.
“The metallic barges are very large in capacity and each can take roughly about 3.2 million litres of diesel,’’ he said.
Adeniran said the navy had launched preliminary investigation into the matter to ascertain sources of the petroleum product, owner and whom it was being delivered to before its seizure.
The FOC said the suspects were presently providing naval investigators with useful information, saying the matter would be handed over to relevant prosecuting agencies at conclusion of preliminary investigation.
“We are using this medium to warn criminals in the maritime domain to have a rethink and refrain from illicit activities that sabotages the nation’s economy.
“The Nigerian Navy will not rest on its oars. If they do not change willingly, we will take necessary actions to compel them to change,’’ he said.