The Nigerian Navy, Delta State Command on Tuesday handed over a merchant tanker vessel, MT NELI, to its owner, three years after the ship was arrested for allegedly engaging in crude oil theft and illegal bunkering, among other crimes.

PUNCH Metro gathered that the release of the vessel followed the directive of the Naval Headquarters, in compliance with a court order.

The handing over which was held at a brief ceremony at the Nigerian Navy Ship Delta Jetty in Warri was performed by the Commander, NNS Delta, Commodore Chindo Usman Yahaya, represented by the Executive Officer, Nigerian Navy Ship Delta, Captain Tony Archibong Bassey.

Speaking on the circumstances that led to the arrest of the merchant tanker on January 25, 2020, the Commander, NNS Delta noted in the handing over documents marked DT 011/92/93/Vol.XIV/Release of MT NELI, that the preliminary investigation on the vessel had revealed that it had an unspecified amount of suspected illegally refined automated gas oil (AGO) and crude oil on board, as at the time of the arrest.

“Hence the vessel was handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for prosecution accordingly”.


The NNS Delta, however, affirmed that as an aftermath of the prosecution, “the Naval Headquarters has directed the release of the vessel in compliance with the court order”.

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