The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it has begun investigation into the activities of 24 suspected oil thieves arrested and handed over to it by the Nigerian Navy.
Spokesman of the commission, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, said in a statement on Friday that the suspects were arrested by the Naval Forward Operating Base in Bonny, Rivers, in March.
According to him, the suspects and their operating vessels were seized at different locations and dates on the Nigerian waterways.
He said the first batch of eight suspects, who were crew members of one of the vessels, MV ROCKFISH, were arrested on board the vessel on Bonny River on March 24.
He identified them as Christian Nwokoafor (Captain), Solomon Avwenagha (Engineer), Eginwin Felix, Anthony Onyenedum, Bassey Akpan, Ezra Njoku, Moses Jonah and Imah Michael.
The Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Victor Adedipe, handed them over to the anti-graft agency, the spokesman stated.
He said another batch of seven crew members were nabbed on board MT BLESSED within Bonny Channel on March 31.
The vessel was laden with about one million litres of products suspected to be Automotive Gas Oil (AGO), according to him.
Similarly, he identified the seven as Epiagolo Moscow (Captain), Innocent Omokett, Pius Ehrimu, Prosper Dickson, Akeem Ganiyu, Obinna Udekwe and Michael Ajilaran.
“A third set of nine crew members: Titus Akinbulejo, Ogunfeyimi Abayomi, Jacob Oweh, Stanley Keme Perdoude, Ifeanyi Uzoka, Agusionu Ifeanyi Teddisson, Nwaoha Vincent Ugochukwu, Olatunji Ebenezer and Idoko Emmanuel Paul onboard MT MONA 1 were arrested on March 20 within Bonny water.
“They were conveying unspecified quantity of products suspected to be illegally refined AGO.
“In all, 24 suspects and three vessels laden with products were handed over to the EFCC.,” Uwujaren said.
The commission’s Zonal Head of Operations in Port-Harcourt, Mr Ishaq Salihu, reportedly received the suspects on behalf of the EFCC.
He promised that the commission would investigate the involvement of the suspects in the alleged crime and prosecute those found wanting.