ABUJA: An Indian national is among 18 sailors arrested in Nigeria for allegedly attempting to illegally export stolen crude oil to Ghana, according to media reports.
The arrested sailors were planning to move stolen crude oil from Nigeria with two foreign vessels, MT Apecus and MT Invictus, believed to be owned by Petrogress Incorporation, which has offices in Nigeria, Greece and the US, the Nigerian Navy said.
Capt Adegoke Ebo, Executive Officer Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder Port Harcourt, Capt.
Adegoke Ebo made this disclosure on Wednesday while handing over the suspects and vessels to the police at the naval base in Port Harcourt.
According to him, the suspects were on the verge of moving the crude oil to Ghana before they were arrested by naval forces.
Among those arrested was the Managing Director of Petrogress Incorporation in Nigeria, Osimili Adah, Nigerian media reported.
"Our findings revealed that Adah has been actively involved in sourcing crude oil from Nigerian creeks and shipping it to Platon Gas Oil Refinery in Tema, Ghana without clearance and approval," Ebo said.
The identity of the Indian national arrested was not disclosed.
"Evidence available to us suggests that the illicit crime had been going on for a while," Ebo alleged.
Ebo said that the suspect later disclosed names of his accomplices and facilitators and also presented evidence and proof to the illicit trading.
The suspect during interrogation revealed that the report of pirate attack on MT Apecus on April 19 was stage-managed, he said.
Five Indians and two Nigerians were reportedly abducted onboard MT Apecus by suspected sea pirates off the coast of Bonny in Rivers on April 19.
According to Ebo, the pirate attack occurred following a disagreement between two alleged oil thieves over rights to lift stolen crude oil abroad.
"Contrary to the initial reports, our investigation revealed that the abduction was rather as a result of failed oil theft collaboration," Ebo said.
"Investigation revealed that one of the aggrieved syndicate resorted to the abduction of the five Indians and two Nigerians," Ebo said.
"A sister maritime agency revealed that MT Apecus had been conducting trading activities in Nigerian waters since 2014 without clearance and approval," he said.