A Vessel, MT Ocean Treasure allegedly used for bunkering diesel has been handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for further investigation alongside its eight crew members.
The vessel was handed over to the EFCC by NIMASA on Thursday. The tanker contained 300 metric tonnes illegallu refined automotive gas oil otherwise called diesel. Also handed over were three officials of Vital Shipping Limited, the owners of the vessel.
The crew members are: Ayoade Emmanuel, Stephen Bamgbose, Idowu Balogun, King. C. Fred, Michael Ekanem, Olorunwa Omowunmi, Felix Ayenuberu and Suru Lepe; while the three staff on board the vessel are: Onuoha Ikechukwu, Omodara Emmaneul and Faith Akhahowa.
Duniya David, Principal Maritime Safety Officer of NIMASA, who handed over the vessel and crew on behalf of the Director General of NIMASA, Mr. Haruna Baba Jauro, urged the Commission to carry out further investigation on the source of the petroleum product and the operations of the vessel.
Receiving the document transferring the vessel and crew, Usman Ladan Baki assured that the EFCC will do its best in investigating the case. A sample of the product was taken by operatives of the Commission for analysis.
Reports showed that the vessel was first sighted on August 5th, 2012 by NIMASA enforcement team on routine patrol off Escravos.
Their attention was drawn to the vessel because it wasn’t carrying a registered flag and they gave it a chase. In the encounter and ensuing gun fight, the vessel and its crew escaped.
The boat conveying the patrol team ran out of fuel and had to make a retreat. The boat later capsized and one of the patrol team members died.
On account of this, NIMASA officials kept a tab on the vessel and eventually arrested it as it attempts to move into the Lagos Harbour.
The Captain of the vessel was said to have escaped in the process and he is still at large.
Upon arrest, it was discovered that the vessel had no shipping certificate, registered flag, crew list, bill of lading and cargo manifest. The oil record book was also not available.
Baki assured NIMASA that the incidence of the gun duel and death of a member of the patrol team will be referred to the appropriate agency for further investigation.