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Crude theft: 26 suspects face life in prison – FG

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Ibekimi Oriamaja Reports

The rogue vessel that entered the nation’s maritime environment on August 7 “without any form of authorization” and the 26 other suspects on trial before a Federal High Court in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, face life imprisonment if convicted, according to the Federal Government.

The MT Heroic Idun, a very large crude oil carrier (VLCC), was reported to have violated existing maritime laws and conventions by entering the “Total Safe Anchorage operated (by) Akpo Field.”

According to the Nigerian Navy, the 336-meter-long vessel can transport three million barrels of crude oil.

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“An action has been filed, and the 27 defendants have been arraigned,” Mrs. Nkiruka Jones-Nebo, a representative of the Federal Ministry of Justice, said at a joint briefing at the Naval Headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday, adding that “17 of them were arraigned yesterday (Monday), and ten of them were arraigned this morning (Tuesday) before the Federal High Court.”

They have already been remanded in custody by the court.

“When it comes to punishment, remember that it is up to the court,” she said of the likely sentence in the event of a conviction. However, depending on the nature of the offense, the Miscellaneous Offenses Act, under which one of the charges was filed, has very harsh penalties, up to and including liable imprisonment. As a result, the court retains its independence.”

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The Chief of Policy and Plans (CPPLANS), Rear Admiral SS Garba, provided an update on the arrested ship, noting that “Nigeria has not recorded any piracy attack in its waters in over a year.”

“The Service will maintain a zero tolerance posture toward crude oil theft and other criminal activities in our maritime domain,” said the senior officer, who spoke on behalf of Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Auwal Gambo.

According to him, the supertanker violated the Nigerian state by attempting to deal in crude oil export without a license or authorization;

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“Violating Nigeria’s Exclusive Economic Zone regulations by illegally entering the restricted zone around an oilfield;

“Falsely accusing a Nigerian Navy ship of piracy on International Maritime Reporting Platforms after communicating with the Nigerian Navy Ship with no ambiguity about her identity, thereby violating sections of the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act 2019.”

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