By ONYEKACHUKWU MELUWA, Warri
The Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Delta on Monday rearrested a vessel (MV SKYE) laden with five hundred and twenty four metric tonnes of illegal products to Officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for investigation and prosecution.
Handing over the vessel, the Commander NNS Delta, Commander, Ibrahim Dewu said nine crew members were also arrested on board with the vessel at the Escravos bar in Warri South-West Local Government Area.
Cdr. Dewu noted that the vessel was arrested by the Joint Task Force(Operation Delta Safe) in 2014 and was handed over and tried by the EFCC for the offence.
“However, the vessel was released on bond by a Court in Port-Harcourt and Operation Delta Safe released this vessel with about 388 metric tonnes of products, crude oil on board.
” With the bond for DPR to sell this product and return the money into the Federal Government coffers.
“This vessel was arrested with the product on board which is 505 metric tonnes according to the Captain of the vessel in Escravos.”
Cdr. Dewu said on investigation,”We realize that this vessel had 524 metric tonnes of products on board in 7 out of the 12 compartment of the vessel.”
Cdr Dewu expressed shock that,”5 out if the 7 compartment had AGO on board.”
While noting that there alot of inconsistencies in the matter, Cdr Dewu said the vessel according to the crew were supposed to be heading to the high sea from Brass in Bayelsa State to Port-Harcourt to dispose off the product after the Court case.
“We found them off Escravos and they claim to be having machinery problem which led them to Escravos.
“Secondly,this vessel was released with about 388 metric tonnes of products only for us to find 524 metric tonnes and part of it is AGO instead of crude oil that was released. “
Cdr Dewu said part of the problems the Navy faces is that vessels hide under bonds to commit illegal activities.
“This vessel has been arrested this month and it will be handed over to EFCC for further investigations and possible prosecutions.
” We are handing over now. We have done our own preliminary investigation which is to prove that this product on board had no valid approval.”
Cdr Dewu insisted that justice will done this time around.
Speaking on behalf of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,EFCC Principal Detective Superintendent, Mr. Richard Ogberagha said the Agency expects to carry out a thorough investigation on the matter.
Ogberagha stressed that officials of the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR were already on ground taking samples saying,”We have started already. “
In his words, “first, to determine the substance which is found in this vessel. Two, to determine the quantity of distance also found in the vessel, three to also to determine if they have approval to carry whatever is inside the vessel. Four, prosecution of all the parties involved.”
Captain of the vessel, Ifeoluwa Jerome denied the claims by the Navy insisting that he has not committed any offence.
He said,”We have the deed of release for the product. “
Jerome said the haulage taken by the Nigeria Navy Ship,NNS Delta was not correct. He said,”Am very sure about that. “
“From the deed of release, if you check it, the product was taken from two vessels. The product on board this vessel. I have the deed of release with me. It was indicated that from.MT SGEN &Emilia. If it were to be three, you will see three type of products on board the vessel.