by Stanley Azuakola
Since January 1st when President Jonathan increased the pump price of fuel leading to a chain of events hardly anyone could have predicted just a year ago, the eyes of the nation have been fixed on the oil and gas industry.
However, this has not deterred the perpetrators of illegalities in the sector from continuing on their path.
On Thursday, officials of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), a bunkering vessel, which they say was carrying 300 metric tonnes of illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) also known as diesel.
The EFCC spokesman,Wilson Uwujaren, who disclosed this, said that the vessel, MT Ocean Treasure, eight crew members, as well as three staff of Vital Shipping Limited, Apapa, owners of the vessel, were handed over to the commission.
He gave the names of the crew members as Ayoade Emmanuel, Stephen Bamgbose, Idowu Balogun, King. C. Fred, Michael Ekanem, Olorunwa Omowunmi, Felix Ayenuberu, and Suru Lepe. The names of the three staff on board the vessel were also given as Onuoha Ikechukwu, Omodara Emmanuel, and Faith Akhahowa.
The principal maritime safety officer of NIMASA, Duniya David, urged the EFCC to further investigate and find out the source of the diesel and the operations of the vessel.
He said that the boat had been chased by NIMASA’s enforcement team on routine patrol off Escravos last week but had escaped, although one of its crew died when he fell overboard.
NIMASA officials, thereafter, tracked the vessel and seized it, even though unfortunately, the ship’s captain escaped.