'We Were Not Aware We Were Stealing' - Oil Thieves
Few of the 10 suspected oil thieves arrested in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria claim they are not aware they were stealing crude oil.
They had come to the location in Delta State with their MT TECNE Vessel and where siphoning the product.
The loading jacket they used in Afremo belongs to the Shell Petroleum and Development Company (SPDC) in Forcados River.
They were arrested by the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) which stormed the location apprehending- one Nigerian, two Pakistanis, three Ghanians, one Indonésian, one Béninois and two Ukrainians.
Parading the suspects at Focados River, Burutu Local Government Area of Delta on Wednesday, the Commander of NNS Delta, Commodore Ibrahim Dewu, said the they were caught in the early hours of Tuesday while siphoning crude oil into their vessel.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Nigerian suspect said he joined the TECNE company in 2016 and was directed to load crude oil from the jacket.
The captain of the ship said he was not aware that their action was illegal.
“We came to load here, I don’t know it is unofficial, I don’t know it is illegal bunkering, we load at night for three days. This is my first time,” he said.
They had siphoned about 2,000 metric tonnes of crude oil from the loading jacket before they were caught.
"Based on intelligence report, at about 02:50 a.m. on April 25, 2017, MT Tecne (registered in Panama), was apprehended by NNS Delta patrol team with 10 crew onboard.
"They are one Nigerian, two Pakistanis, three Ghanians, one Indonésian, one Béninois and two Ukrainians, the Nigerian among them is the Chief Officer while the Captain is a Pakistani.
"This vessel has been around our water, what they do is that they go into the high sea during the day, they come late night and connect to the Jacket and siphon crude oil.
"We have been trailing them for three days, this is the forth night and the vessel is fully ladened with illegal crude oil and this is what they keep doing," Commodore Dewu stated.
The feat was the outcome of the ongoing “Operation Delta Safe Operation River Sweep Two and Operation Tsare Teku” mandates of the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS).
He gave an assurance that the navy would continue to check illegalities on the nation's waterways.
“Most of the oil companies have service boats, so they should make it a point of duty to keep watching these jackets both day and night,” he added.
The suspects and the vessel are expected to be over to the police for prosecution.