The Nigerian Navy has set ablaze a Marine Vessel, MV Cecilia, laden with no less than 350,000 litres of petroleum products, which its operatives arrested a few days ago.
The Navy had announced earlier that it burst the stolen Automated Gas Oil, also known as diesel in Woji, Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State.
Truetells Nigeria understands that the said vessel was seized by personnel of the Nigerian Navy Ship Pathfinder, Port Harcourt, on Wednesday, August 16, 2023, while three suspects were arrested.
Confirming the seizure of the product earlier, the Commander, Operation Delta Safe, Real Admiral Olusegun Ferrera, represented by the maritime component commander of the Joint Taskforce for Operation Delta Safe, South-South, Navy Commodore Adedokun Siyanbade, told journalists that the vessel, which has not been put in use for two years was used as a storage tank for illegally refined products.
According to him, the arrest was made while the Navy was trying to actualise the mandate of Operation Delta Safe; the Commander JTF, South-South of OPDS, directed the NNS Pathfinder, based on credible intelligence, to conduct a covert operation in the area.
He stated, “The vessel has the capacity all together including the fuel and water capacity of about 350,000 litres.
“The water tanks have been converted as a storage tank for these illegal products, and the vessel has not been to sea for the past two years.”
Reports, however, emerging on Wednesday through personnel of the NNS Pathfinder acting ‘under extant regulations’ said the vessel had been pushed far into the deep waters and set on fire.
According to The PUNCH, journalists who witnessed the scene confirmed that two Naval gunboats manned with personnel escorted the impounded vessel, while a tug boat pushed it for over two hours into a safe location where it was positioned.
The stationary vessel gradually convulsed into flames with thick black smoke billowing into the sky.