News report by a national daily newspaper that the Equatorial Guinea Navy arrested an oil super tanker, MV HEROIC IDUN, that had reportedly evaded arrest in Nigeria highlights the over two decades of Nigeria adventure into crude smuggling and the official conspiracy that attends it.
The conspiracy is “Top to Bottom”, believed to include the presidency and critical segment of the federal executive council, the police, special services and the military.
Instructively because of this high calibre official network, and the involvement of the government whose duty it is to catch the thieves; it is perhaps understandable why crude theft has remained a sad commentary of collective guilt.
Because the territory is unapproachable by reason of absolute protection, so far every official talk about fighting the monster has remained a fiasco, and defied every known logic because such efforts are at best hollow and mere pretensions.
It can only be an adventure of mutual deceit where the policing departments are the thieves.
According to the news report, although MV HEROIC IDUN
was seen around the AKPO Oil field on August 7 by the Nigerian Navy, the VLCC super tanker with an estimated loading capacity of three million barrels valued at $300million, escaped Nigeria Navy Ship, NNS GONGOLA.
The fully loaded tanker outran our own combat built to operability sea manourvre, NNS GONGOLA, and disappeared out of sight.
The vessel with International Maritime Organisation (IMO) number 9858058, was however arrested on Friday by officials of Equatorial Guinea, reportedly with the help of intelligence supplied by the Nigerian Navy.
Some version of the gist holds that NNS GONGOLA actually interrogated the ship when it was first sighted around the AKPO Deep offshore oil field operated by a multinational firm at midnight of August 7.
Nigerians have been told that the NN’s Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) facility upon sighting MV HEROIC IDUN, immediately suspected it must be engaged in illegal actions, which prompted NNS GONGOLA to establish communication and “to interrogate the vessel.”
According to the news report, upon interrogation, it was discovered that the ship entered Nigeria’s water without valid documents and approval by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited’s (NNPC).
The name of the international oil company that operates the AKPO Deep offshore oil field was however conveniently left unmentioned.
We were further told that after our Navy established that the enemy ship was stealing our fishes, the Marshal lsland flagged the ship and was ASKED to proceed to Bonny Fairway in Rivers State for further interrogation and Vessel Boarding Search and Seizure (VBSS).
Our Nigerian narrator report that rather than OBEY, MV HEROIC IDUN reportedly increased its speed and changed its direction facing Sao Tome and Principe.
Nigeria is the only country in the world that exchange civil conversation with a ship that has evidently been established not only of sovereign trespass but also of criminal economic activities.
Thus far, the adventure in a simple give-away body language, that apparently aided suspect smugglers tonsail out unchallenged the same way they sail along with unmistaken official collusion.
It has been reported that the arrested foreign fishing ship has 26 crew comprising 16 Indians, eight Srilankans, a Polish and and one Filipino.
Those whose business it is to know say it is impossible for the criminal ship to have access Nigerian waters without insiders collaboration.
Yet others think that the easy access and exit of foreign smuggling vessels is a reflection of the failure of our surveillance and monitoring system, to which hundreds of millions of dollars have been expended in the past few years.
“If you understand what it costs to charter such a vessel a day and that it may have spent a whole month in Nigeria, pumping 100,000bpd, then, you will know how massive this business is and the dynamics behind crude oil theft in Nigeria”, volunteered a knowledgeable source who does not wish to be mentioned, adding that the sheer number of foreign suspect clearly indicate how huge and connected Nigeria crude theft have grown.
“Most just dont have the slighest clue of the level and sophistication of crude oil theft going on in Nigeria. Interestingly, you may wish to also note here the list of the crew,16 Indians, 8 Sri Lankans, 1 Polish and 1 Philippino.
“Anyway, in a nation where monkeys swallow money, then, snakes and now termites, maybe the fishes of the Niger Delta are now swallowing Nigerian crude.”
A quick check at the statistics of how the federal government through the Economic and Crimes Commission (EFCC) toyed with arrested suspected vessels involved in crude theft, and how their investigations, prosecution and condemnation are treated, one will understand the level of official accessory to these crimes.
What about the administration and sales of these vessels and their contents and the financial records with EFCC and the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (OAGF)?
The cliche about “the more you look the less you see” finds poignant expression in the way relevant departments involved in the crude policing, arrest, prosecution, sales and receipts accounting have been administered in the past fifteen years.