09 Dec Nigeria: Nigerian Navy Apprehends Motor Tanker Vinnalaris 1 Lagos in Connection to Crude Oil Theft
By Ahmad Hadizat Omayoza, Mamos Nigeria
In a significant operation, the Nigerian Navy’s Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Igbokoda, Ondo, successfully detected and apprehended the 77-meter-long Motor Tanker (MT) Vinnalaris 1 Lagos on the night of December 6, 2023, for its involvement in crude oil theft. The vessel, carrying 17 crew members, was caught in the act of illegally siphoning crude oil from one of the well heads at the EBESAN oil field, situated approximately 7 nautical miles off the coast of Awoye riverine community in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State.
Commodore Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, the Director of Naval Information, emphasized the Navy’s commitment to curbing crude oil theft and illicit activities within Nigeria’s maritime domain. The arrest followed credible intelligence received by the base, prompting a swift deployment of FOB IGBOKODA personnel to enforce the apprehension of the vessel and its crew.
Upon approaching MT Vinnalaris 1 Lagos, the two boats attached to the vessel attempted to flee upon sighting the naval personnel, confirming their engagement in illicit activities. Subsequent investigations revealed the vessel’s active involvement in siphoning crude oil from both sides of the well head. With a storage capacity of about 15,000 metric tonnes, the vessel had loaded approximately 500 metric tonnes of crude oil at the time of arrest.
This operation underscores the Nigerian Navy’s determination to combat illegalities in the country’s maritime environment. The Director of Naval Information warned criminals and their collaborators that the Navy would employ all legitimate means to track and apprehend perpetrators of such illegal activities.
While individuals engaged in legitimate business activities are encouraged to continue their pursuits, the Navy seeks the cooperation of patriotic citizens to promptly report any criminal activities, especially in coastal communities, for necessary action. Additionally, there were allegations of the involvement of Tantita Security Service (TSS) in these illegalities, particularly in the Awoye riverine area. The Navy, however, dismissed such claims as false and mischievous.
Despite any attempts to disrupt their operations, the Nigerian Navy remains steadfast in fulfilling its constitutional mandate to protect Nigeria’s maritime environment for national economic development and prosperity. As the investigation unfolds, it is crucial for the public to remain vigilant and collaborate with authorities in maintaining the integrity of Nigeria’s maritime domain.