BY GBOGBOWA GBOWA
There are indications that a foreign vessel with Togolese flag, MT PRAISE transporting suspected stolen crude oil and allegedly under the protection of one Commodore Samuel Samba Musa has been arrested in Koko area of Delta State by operatives of Tantita Security Services, contracted by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), to monitor and protect pipelines in the Niger Delta region.
Although information regarding the development is still scanty, MT PRAISE according to unconfirmed sources was being escorted by a Navy boat led by one Cdr Samuel Samba Musa as at the time it was arrested.
Available report says when Tantita operatives made attempt to intercept it, Musa resisted them, but the operatives reportedly stood their ground and called the attention of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), who reportedly got across to the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS); who in turn ordered the said Naval Officer to stand aside and allow Tantita operatives to search the suspected vessel.
Upon confirmation that the vessel was laden with stolen crude, the security operatives took custody of the vessel and sailed it to anchor.
According to reports, the incident which occurred on August 2, 2023 is another major breakthrough by the NNPCL in the fight against crude theft. Unconfirmed report says Tantita operatives had intelligence about the Togolese flag vessel while on routine patrol, and went after it.
When our reporter contacted TSS spokesman, Mr. Paul Bebenimibo for confirmation, he said he will cross check and get back. He was yet to do so over an hour before running this report.
It will be recalled that on July 7, 2023, TSS operatives unmasked a foreign vessel said to be linked to the Republic of Turkey and believed to have been involved in the smuggling of Nigerian crude in the past twelve years.
The vessel, MT TURA II (IMO number: 6620462), owned by a Nigerian Registered Company, HOLAB MARITIME SERVICES LIMITED with Registration Number RC813311 as at the date of arrest, was carrying about 800,000-litre of crude oil illegally sourced from a well jacket offshore Ondo State, Nigeria, and was heading to Cameroun with the cargo on board when it was apprehended.
State officials say , “There was no valid documentation for the Vessel or the Crude Oil Cargo onboard at the time of the arrest. Further investigation into the activities of the vessel at the NNPC Ltd. Command and Control Centre also revealed that the Vessel has been operating in stealth mode for the last 12 years. The last reported location of the vessel was Tin-Can Port in July 2011.”