The Nigerian military (combined soldiers and naval) operation, yesterday set ablaze a large vessel, MT Deima, (frequently being used by oil thieves in Niger Delta creeks) impounded while stealing crude from an illegal loading point along Benin River within Delta waterways in Warri South West Council area.
According to Sun report, also arrested were the Seven crew members on board the vessel (all Nigerians) who are currently being detained and still being interrogated by military operatives investigating the crime before they would be handed over to the police for prosecution.
However in their defence, the Captain of the vessel who spoke on behalf of the other crew members, claimed that they were being forced to embarked on the operation by some militants who hijacked their vessel and diverted their movement to the area where they were being arrested.
It was gathered that operatives of the newly-contracted private oil pipeline surveillance team, Tantita Security Services Limited, owned by Ex-militant warlord, High Chief Government Ekpemukpolo, Aka Tompolo, intercepted the vessel based on Intels on Thursday, October 6, 2022, while siphoning crude oil from an illegal loading location.
At the point of arrest the vessel
with registration number L85 B9.50, was said to have operated under different names in carrying out the illegal business on the creeks, had loaded about 600 to 650 Cubic of crude oil in five of its compartments.
Investigations carried out revealed that the vessel although registered in Nigeria usually sailed into the neighbouring country, Ghana, where its foreign agents were on standby to off loads the stolen crude into a bigger vessels and it returns again into the Nigerian waterways.
The military set the ill-fated vessel on fire on Warri River at about 3pm on Monday, in an operation witnessed by the NNPC officials, Delta state government and members of the Tantita Security Services outfit that arrested the vessel.
Speaking with newsmen shortly before the destruction of the vessel, its Captain Temple Manasseh, admitted that although they were caught in the act by the private security operatives but insisted they were forced to the location by some armed militants who hijacked them from where they were stationed awaiting further directive on their next operations.
According to him; “I was arrested in Escravos by Tompolo boys but the alleged stolen crude oil was not loaded by me. My vessel was hijacked by some boys who forced the loaded crude into my ship. I don’t know the hijackers at all. But when Tompolo security operatives stormed the scene, they all ran away and abandoned their loading operation which had lasted about two and a half hours”.
Although the military officials who destroyed the illicit oil vessel would not entertain question from newsmen during the operation, a Marine Intelligence Consultant for Tantita Security Services Limited, Captain Warredi Enisuoh, affirmed that the arrest was as a result of intelligence gathering aided with close monitoring via the satellite.
Captain Enisuoh stated that records showed that the Dutch vessel sold to a Nigerian had been variously “used for moving crude oil illegally for years” adding that the arrested vessel had scheduled to take the stolen crude to Tema in Ghana.
Speaking further Enisuoh noted that; “the operation of Tantita
Security Services in collaboration with Operation Delta Safe, which is a government and private sector initiative, has yielded positive result leading to the arrest”.
Captain Enisuoh further told journalists that “Tantita actually have intelligence on five vessels. It was the only one (the destroyed vessel) that came in since the security operations started. And the identity of the vessel’s owners has been established”.
“Our advice is that the rest should not come near Nigerian waters because if you think Nigeria is not serious, today’s revelation is their answer”, Enisuoh stated.