The Nigerian Navy Ship, Pathfinder in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, said its personnel arrested 11 suspected oil thieves in Krakrama Creeks in Asari-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State.

The Navy said the suspects were arrested while in a wooden boat laden with equipment used in the construction of an illegal refining site.

The Commander, NNS Pathfinder, Commodore Desmond Igbo, disclosed this while parading the suspects and the items before newsmen in Port Harcourt on Monday, before handing them over to personnel of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps.

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Commodore Igbo who was represented by the NNS Base Operations Officer, Commander Sa’id Kabir, said the items including 20 gas cylinders were carefully concealed in a boat to ward off the eyes of operatives.

Commodore Igbo stated, “In line with the Chief of Naval Staff’s strategic mandate on zero tolerance for crude oil and other petroleum products theft, the Base has been resolute in conducting operations to deny the oil thieves freedom of action in its Area of Operations.

“Consequently, on 23rd January 2024, the Base Tactical Response and Assault Squadron while on routine patrol around Krakrama Creeks, intercepted a boat with 11 crew and laden with 10 metal plates, 14 angle iron as well as 20 gas cylinders.

“The items were carefully concealed in a wooden boat are materials used for the construction of illegal refinery sites in the creeks.

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“Further findings revealed that the suspects were conveying the items to Bille general area (Degema Local Government) for the construction of an illegal refining site.”

He noted that further investigation revealed that the arrested suspects were workers used for the construction of the illegal refining site.

“The arrested suspects claimed they were contracted by one Mr John. At the moment, the Base is making concerted efforts to arrest Mr John and other suspects involved in this criminal act,” he said.

He cautioned oil thieves and other criminal elements within Bile and other parts of Rivers State to change their ways, saying “The Base will stop at nothing to ensure they are arrested and brought to justice.

“It is important to state that the Base will not be deterred by blackmail or antics of enemies of the nation against the Nigerian Navy in the discharge of its constitutional duties” while the Base therefore hands over the 11 suspects to the NSCDC for further investigation and prosecution.

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Responding after taking delivery of the suspects and the seized items, Deputy Superintendent from the Intelligence and Investigation Department, NSCDC, Monday Lawal, said all the suspects would be subjected to further investigation.

He added that if found culpable, they would be prosecuted.