The Nigerian Navy Ship BEECROFT announced on Sunday that it had arrested the Motor Tanker SAISNIL II for alleged oil theft in Lagos waters.
According to a press statement by the Base Information Officer, Hussein Ibrahim, the vessel, flagged in St. Vincent & Grenadines and carrying 11 crew members at the time of arrest, contained 720,000 liters of suspected stolen crude oil.
The statement highlighted the achievement as a display of maritime security prowess under the leadership of Commander Commodore Kolawole Oguntuga, who is also the Maritime Component Commander of Operation AWATSE.
Rear Admiral Mustapha Hassan, the Flag Officer Commanding the Western Naval Command, stated in the statement that the vessel was observed to have turned off its Automatic Identification System (AIS), a serious violation within the nation’s maritime domain.
He explained that determining the vessel’s activities becomes impossible when such systems are turned off, which is typically when illegal actions are carried out.
He added that this violation led to the deployment of the Nigerian Navy Ship SOKOTO, which sailed 199 nautical miles to intercept and return the vessel to Lagos Anchorage.
According to the naval officer, SAISNIL II initially left Lagos Anchorage on November 23, 2023, for Taraba Jetty in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, to evacuate about 720,000 liters of Crude Oil Sludge. However, the vessel’s manipulation of its AIS around the ABO Field for over 48 hours raised suspicions of illegal activities.
He stated that samples of the product onboard have been taken for analysis at the appropriate laboratory, and the outcome will determine the next course of action. He further stated that the vessel is open to any agency wishing to obtain samples onboard for analysis to verify the product.
He stressed the Nigerian Navy’s commitment to ensuring transparency and maintaining holistic maritime security.
The successful detection and arrest of MT SAISNIL II, despite the distance from the coast, align with the strategic priorities of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, underscoring the Navy’s unwavering commitment to eradicating crude oil theft within the nation’s maritime environment for the economic prosperity of the country.