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Navy hands over arrested oil vessel, six suspects to EFCC

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The Fourth Operating Base (FORMOSO) of the Nigerian Navy has handed over MV Gratitude, a vessel laden with one million litres of illegally produced Automotive Gas Oil (AGO), to the Economic and Financial Crime Commission.

Also delivered to the EFCC on Wednesday for investigation and prosecution were six crew members aboard the vessel when it was arrested.

The navy nabbed the vessel on January 9, 2020, for conveying illegal and poorly-refined diesel worth over N360 million.

Speaking during the handing over, the Commander of FORMOSO, Cdre. Suleimam Ibrahim, said the laboratory analysis carried out by the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) showed that the product was from an illegal refinery, popularly called ‘Kpofire’.

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He said, “MV Gratitude was arrested because it was conveying poorly-refined AGO. The Niger Delta is known for illegal bunkering and refining popularly call ‘kpofire’.

“Laboratory experiments show that what they were conveying was illegal because we took the sample to DPR which confirmed it was truly fake and substandard.

“One million litres of AGO was found on the vessel, which we seized and now handling over to the EFCC for further investigation and prosecution.”

While calling on oil thieves and other criminals in the Niger Delta to find an alternate and legal means of livelihood, Ibrahim said the navy would ensure that the waterways were free from criminalities.

Receiving the vessels and the six suspects from the navy, EFCC representative, Tasiu Abubakar, said the agency would go into full investigation and prosecution of the vessel’s owners and suspects.

He said the collaboration between the agency and the navy yielded positive results, which led to the prosecution of many oil thieves in the region.

Captain of the vessel, Victor Ita, said the product was loaded into the vessel at Onne, Rivers State, and was heading for Brass before it was arrested.

He claimed ignorance of the content, saying he was only working for his company, which he disclosed as Ocean Honey Nigeria Limited.

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