Men of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Victory in Calabar, Cross River State, have seized a large wooden boat with about 130 litres of suspected illegally refined Automative Gas Oil (AGO) commonly known as diesel.
Also arrested along with the items were seven suspects.
Addressing reporters while handing over the items and suspects to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), Commander of NNS Victory, Commodore Julius Nwagu, said they were intercepted along the Calabar channel.
He said the boat contained 520 drums (250 litres each) of suspected illegally refined diesel.
The Navy commander put the worth of the product at about N24 million.
“My men on patrol intercepted a wooden boat laden with 520 drums of suspected illegally refined AGO and when I was informed, I asked them to arrest the boat and bring the boat to my base. That was done and the following day we commenced offloading and I am here hand over the drums to Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
“Seven men were arrested with the products. We are handing over everything. The Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ette Ibas, gave me directives and the directives were clear on issues of illegalities and I want to assure you that I will not blink until perpetrators of heinous sabotage to our national economy are brought to book.
“On investigation, we found that that these products came from Rivers State and the final destination was Calabar before they ran into my security patrol boats,” Nwagu said.
Commander of the NSCDC in Cross River State, Haliru Usman Alhassan thanked the Navy for a good job.
“They are fighting illegality successfully, and this is a good synergy between the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps. I am here to receive the items and suspects to be charged to court and prosecute them diligently. I promise the Navy that each level we are in the prosecution, we would be furnishing them with the information, so that at least they know how we are going. This is a lesson and others involved in such illegalities should desist,” Alhassan said.
He said what would happen to the products would depend on what they court says.
The leader of the suspects, Christopher Okon, 30, from Mbo in Akwa Ibom State said it was his second time on such trip.
He said they brought the products from Rivers State to sell in Calabar.
He said the business belonged to one Mr Tony.