The Nigerian Navy arrested 16 Ukrainian nationals on Friday for illegally transporting diesel without the correct Nigerian permits.
The ship was found to be transporting 5 million litres of diesel without consulting the Nigerian authorities.
One vessel, MT San Padre Pio and the 16 all-male crew members were held in the operation.
Capt. Suleiman Olorundare, Commanding Officer of the Nigerian Navy Forward Operating Base, said the vessel anchored around Odudu Oil Field, Rivers, and waited to discharge the petroleum product to smaller vessels before it was caught by naval patrol team.
“On Jan. 23, MT San Padre Pio with 16 crew members of Ukrainian nationals was arrested over unauthorised entry into the nation’s maritime environment.
“When our troops went on-board the vessel, they discovered that the vessel engaged in illegal trading activities that contravene the nation’s maritime and cabotage laws.
“The vessel was carrying petroleum product suspected to be diesel of about 5,000 metric tonnes (5 million litres).”
The vessel, petroleum product and suspects were handed to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for further investigation and possible prosecution.
The commanding officer said the seizure and arrest were carried out in compliance with ongoing clamp down on criminal activities within the nation’s territorial waters.
The Captain of MT San Padre Pio, Andriy Vaskov, claimed that the vessel had clearance from the Nigerian Navy to ship the product to Nigeria.
“This is about the fifth time that we have transported petroleum product to the country”
Vaskov named Blue Sea Marine Company as its Nigerian partners.
The investigation continues.