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MV Cecelia Owner Sues Nigerian Navy Over Vessel Destruction in Illegal Diesel Transport Case

Jasper Ako, the owner of the MV Cecelia vessel that was arrested by the Navy in Rivers state over the transportation of illegally refined diesel, has questioned the Navy on the authority it has to destroy the vessel.

According to him, he has no choice but to take Nigeria and the Navy to court, this is according to a report from Channels Television.

Last week, the MV Cecelia made headlines as it was reportedly discovered carrying an astounding 350,000 litres of illicitly refined automotive gas oil, commonly known as diesel.

The vessel’s location at the time of arrest was the Trans Woji area of Port Harcourt, situated in Rivers State.

The Nigerian Navy apprehended the vessel and has expressed its commitment to not only bring the owner to justice but also to hold all those complicit in this unlawful act accountable.

Commodore Adedokun Siyanbade, the distinguished Commander of the Maritime Component of Operation Delta State (OPDS), in an interview with Channels Television, revealed that the Navy had acted upon credible intelligence indicating ongoing illegal activities within the designated region.

He said:

  • “The operation was conducted and that operation led to the arrest of MV Cecelia, a vessel that ought to be a service boat but has been converted to a storage tank for illegally refined products suspected to be AGO (diesel). 
  • “The vessel has not been to sea for the past two years, it was expected to be under maintenance but is being used for a different purpose whereby people from the illegal refinery side bring their products to this place to be stored whereby other people come here to purchase the products.” 

More Insights

Augustine Ojekudo who is the legal counsel to Jasper Ako, the vessel owner said that the vessel owner has communicated to all the agencies that he was not complicit in the criminal act, if any. He said:

  • “When the owner of the vessel is not involved in any criminality, why should the owner lose his much-prized vessel which is running into billions of naira? Where is the order of the Court authorizing the destruction of the vessel? How much investigation has been done by the Naval authorities to justify the destruction of the vessel?”

What you should know

According to the latest data from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, between August 12 and 18, 45 illicit refineries operating in the Niger Delta were unveiled, exposing the magnitude of these unauthorized operations.

Also, there were 20 instances of unauthorized connections, 8 breaches of vessel AIS regulations, and 6 cases of oil spills, along with the identification of 20 wooden boats repurposed for transporting stolen crude.

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