Commodore Isaac Ogbole, Commander, Nigerian Navy NNS Jubilee in Ikot Abasi, Akwa Ibom, on Saturday said the command had arrested seven persons believed to be oil theft suspects the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
Among those arrested were four Camerounians – Elias Mume, Lappa Bamileke, Fabian Lemonmu and Meluis Amah, and three Nigerians – Emeka Igbokwe, Michael John and Egbe Jame.
Ogbole told newsmen in Ikot Abasi that the suspects were allegedly caught “red-handed” on Dec. 31, 2013.
“The suspects were nabbed at Agbani area, close to Bakassi Local Government Area, the border between Nigerian and Cameroun,” he explained.
He said that the suspects were intercepted after intelligence reports indicated that they were travelling from Ibaka in Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom to Cameroon in a boat while pretending to be businessmen dealing on provisions.
Ogbole disclosed that the suspects were intercepted with 134 drums of 250 litres each, loaded with Petroleum Motor Spirit (PMS), concealed under some assorted provisions, while heading toward Cameroon.
He listed other items recovered from the suspects to include two Yamaha outboard engines and two oil pumping machines.
“From all indications, it was clear that the men were not only carrying petroleum products. They could have equally smuggled arms and ammunition into the country.
“They have made useful statement to my men and told us that their master is somewhere in Cameroun. From what we are seeing, they are perpetual smugglers who come in and out of the country,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the suspects were promptly handed over to the Akwa Ibom Command of the NSCDC.
Mr Pedro Ideba, the state’s NSCDC Commandant, who spoke with NAN, shortly after receiving the suspects, promised to ensure a thorough investigation toward effective prosecution of the suspects.
Ideba assured Nigerians of the command’s determination to stop oil theft, and described the crime as a huge economic sabotage.
“People come into our country and steal our crude oil to other countries. They will adulterate it and re-sell to our people. This act must stop,’’ he declared.