Some suspected oil bunkerers operating in a 40-metre length wooden boat, which had about 65,000 litres of petroleum products on board, have been arrested on the River Niger by the Nigerian Navy.
Commander of NNS Luguard Lokoja, Commodore Shuwa Abdulrahim Muhammed, told newsmen that the petroleum products were stored in nine Geepee tanks of 500 litres each.
According to him, the boat was discovered at a mashed area of the river around Lokoja on Monday while the command was on patrol from Baro in Niger State to Lokoja and Idah in Kogi State. He added that the boat was found abandoned due to the intensive patrol around the area.
The discovery, he said, has unravelled another hidden aspect of oil theft, showing that it is not restricted to the Niger Delta alone but anywhere the perpetrators could locate pipelines carrying petroleum products.
Muhammed said the impounded products would be handed over to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), which will test and ascertain the type of product and eventual evacuation, while the boat and all its equipment would be destroyed.
“The Federal Government’s policy and directive from the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, on zero tolerance on oil theft and illegal bunkering on our waters would be enforced with a view to eradicating the menace, which has led to significant loss in revenue accruable to the Federal Government,” he said.
However, he called on the public to give useful information to the command in its effort to eradicate oil theft on the waterways. Items recovered included the wooden boat, about 65,000 litres of petroleum products stored in nine Geepee tanks of 500 litres each, two pumping machines, three Yamaha boat engines, three hoses, 150 litres of PMS, a machete, rubber bucket, a bag containing machine tools and five empty 25-litres jerry cans.
NNPC representative, Joseph Idoko, said the product would undergo testing to determine whether it is diesel or crude.—Ships and Ports