The International Maritime Organisation, according to the Nigerian Navy, has stated that the country’s waterways were dangerous for commerce in the past because of the practise of dumping oil theft vessels along the waterways.The Navy noted that these kinds of ship abandonments were a factor in the high insurance rates that ships operating in Nigerian waters had to pay, and they also mentioned the enormous expense of clearing the waterways.
The Navy claimed in a statement released on Sunday by Commodore A.O. Ayo-Vaughan, director of Information, that a ship known as Merchant Vessel Cecelia was being monitored in connection with claims of oil theft.This is in response to the Navy being accused of capturing and destroying the MV Cecelia by its owners.”The vessel was arrested on August 15, 2023, at Meco Jetty in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, following an operation by the Naval Component of OPDS,” the release stated.
“The products are suspected to be illegally refined AGO.” Immediately following the arrest, a press interview was held; yet, the owners of the vessel were still at large.”It was later found that the products on board the ship were illegal AGO after a sample was collected for laboratory investigation.
Crucially, the ship’s owners were evading capture and failed to show up for the test as required by current protocol.”In certain cases where vessels involved in oil theft are arrested, the owners abscond, leaving the NN to bear the cost of keeping and sustaining the vessels,” the statement continued, citing the practise of oil thieves. This has resulted in significant financial losses for the country and grave issues with national security.
The Navy’s complaint that the majority of ship sinkings created “serious navigational hazards” provided additional justification for the IMO’s determination.
The majority of the boats cause major navigational risks since they either sink in the channel or next to the jetty. The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) had designated the country’s ports and waterways as the most dangerous ports in the area, largely due to these abandoned vessels.This has had a detrimental effect on the economy of the country by raising the insurance premiums for ships operating in Nigerian waters.
It is sufficient to say that enormous sums of money have been spent by NIMASA, NPA, and the NN to clean wreckage in the waterways caused by abandoned vessels involved in oil theft.The public should be aware that the MV CECELIA, which has been moored for over two years, is not currently in service. When the ship was apprehended, it had around 250,000 litres of illegal AGO.
The report said, “Up till now, three people have been detained and have provided helpful testimonies; the purported owners have not been apprehended.The statement claims that the ship lacks both NNPCL and all other regulatory approvals necessary to function as an AGO storage facility.
The NN and OPDS are well aware of this fact because pertinent agencies typically notify Naval Headquarters of all authorised storage facilities so that they can be monitored.It is significant to remember that the information showed that goods that have been unlawfully processed are being received and stored on board the MV CECELIA. According to one of the suspects, they typically transport illegally processed AGO in “Cotonou” (big wooden) boats and Geepee tanks.
They then unload the material into the MV CECELIA until it is sold to unwary consumers. Regretfully, until the most recent resurgence of intelligence-led operations by OPDS and the NN, this practise went undetected.
The Navy declared that the seizure of the MV CECELIA was a significant development in the ongoing effort to eradicate oil theft from the Niger Delta. They also said that the NN and OPDS would not be impeded by the customary mischievous behaviour of the oil thieves.The declaration pledged to combat oil theft along the rivers.
The text stated, “Owners may occasionally assert that they were unaware that their boats were used illegally. The NN and OPDS continue to uphold the law and fulfil their mandated responsibilities to combat oil theft.