Paul Obi in Abuja
As part of the strategy to rid the nation of maritime crimes, the Nigerian Navy yesterday rescued an oil tanker hijacked by pirates around Bonny Island
According to officials, the rescue is another major feat in its ongoing operations against piracy and other criminalities in Nigerian waters.
The Director of Information, Naval Headquarters, Navy Captain Sulieman Dahun, said: “Nigerian Navy Ship Okpabana rescued an oil tanker, MT Gas Providence which came under pirate attack yesterday off Bonny Island, River State.
“The rescued ship had 21 crew members onboard and upon encountering the pirates sent a distress call which prompted the Nigerian Navy to dispatch NNS Okpabana to rescue her.
Dahun explained: “As at yesterday 1:30p.m., NNS Okpabana personnel have boarded the rescued oil tanker to investigate and gather information on the failed hijack attempt.
“In a related development, personnel of the Nigerian Navy Ship Victory also repelled a pirate attack on an oil tanker MT Rio Spirit.”
He said: “The pirates attempted to hijack the oil tanker after she loaded products from Qua Iboe terminal and sailed 110 nautical miles south of Akassa in Delta State where the incident took place.
“Not mindful of the fact that the vessel was under security cover by the operatives of the Nigerian Navy who were onboard a security vessel, the assailants swooped on MT Rio Spirit in an attempt to hijack her.
“The Nigerian Navy operatives repelled the attack and secured the route of the vessel.
“Not deterred, the pirates made another spirited effort to hijack MT Rio Spirit 30 minutes after the first attempt which was also repelled. However, she was successfully escorted to safety as she continued her voyage.”
He added that “a patrol team deployed by Nigerian Navy Ship Delta has discovered and destroyed eight illegal refineries around Osiagbene Creek in Ogbeletobo Community of Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State.
“The items destroyed in the raid include 15 metal tanks laden with about 130MT of product suspected to be illegally refined AGO and about 200MT of substance suspected to be stolen crude oil.
“Additionally, an anti-crude oil theft patrol team deployed by NNS Pathfinder conducted patrols of creeks and waterways in their area of operations.
“During the patrol, the team raided 3 illegal refineries in which unspecified quantity of illegally refined diesel and stolen crude oil were destroyed around Bille Community in Rivers State. Similarly, the team raided six active illegal refining sites around Bille and Kalabari axis.
“About 45 metric tons of suspected illegally refined AGO and steel tanks with unspecified quantity of stolen crude oil were also destroyed.
“In view of the foregoing, the Nigerian Navy once again wishes to reiterate its determination to combat criminalities in the nations waters and ensure a safe and conducive atmosphere for legitimate maritime operators,” Dahun stated.