Arrest of MT Heroic Idun; Nigerian Navy assures zero tolerance to Crude Oil theft


Nigerian Navy Chief of Policy and Planning (CPPLANS) Real Admiral Saidu Garuba has assured Nigerians that the service will maintain a posture of zero tolerance to crude oil theft and other criminal activities in the maritime domain.

According him, this is in accordance with its statutory responsibilities and drawing strength from the strategic directives of the CNS, Vice Admiral Auwal Zubairu Gambo (CFR).

Garuba stated this during the press briefing on the transfer of MT HEROIC IDUN from Equatorial Guinea to Nigeria, at Naval Headquarters, Abuja.

He explained that the Nigerian Navy shall continue to work in synergy with other maritime stakeholders, Gulf of Guinea States’ navies and strategic partners, to ensure that Nigeria derives maximum benefits from its natural maritime endowment.

He further explained that on Friday 19th August, 2022, the Nigeria Naval Headquarters briefed the press on the arrest of Motor Tanker HEROIC IDUN by the Equatorial Guinean Navy.

Garuba stated that the Very Large Crude oil Carrier (VICC) had entered the Nigerian Maritime Environment (NME) on 7th August, 2022 and headed for Akpo Field without any form of authorization or clearance.

‘’According to him, “apart from refusing lawful arrest, the captain of the vessel made a broadcast of false piracy attack call to International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre to mislead mariners that NNS Gongola was a pirate vessel and possibly concoct an alibi for her desperate action”.

“On the piracy alert, the Nigerian Navy also through international collaboration alerted relevant piracy reporting centres through CRESMAO and ECOWAS Zone F Cotonou headed by Nigerian Navy officers for the alert to be cancelled immediately which was done by IMB. Suffice to state that Nigeria has not recorded any piracy attack in its waters in over one year”. He added.

Real Admiral Garuba noted that the mischievous act by MT HEROIC IDUN was clearly aimed at tarnishing the good image of the maritime domain of Nigeria, which they have worked very hard to achieve and sustain.

Garuba informed that on 6th November, 2022, the vessel was handed over to Nigeria by Equatorial Guinea and subsequently, she cast off Equatorial Guinea waters under Nigerian Navy escort on 11th November, 2022 and arrived off Bonny Offshore Terminal II on 12th November, 2022.

He noted that MT HEROIC IDUN is presently in the custody of the Nigerian Navy and based on legal opinion and analysis, the super-tanker could be said to have committed the following offences against the Nigerian State; Attempt to deal in export crude oil without license or authorization; Entering the restricted Zone around an Oilfield without authorization and thus violating Nigeria’s Exclusive Economic Zone regulations; Falsely accusing a Nigerian Navy Ship of piracy on International Maritime Reporting Platforms after having communicated with the Nigerian Navy Ship without ambiguity about her identity therefore violating sections of the suppression of piracy and other maritime offences (SPOMO) Act 2019 and amongst others.

He explained that the actual occurrence regarding MT HEROIC IDUN for which she is now under the custody of the Nigerian Navy for prosecution.

He however urged the public to disregard rumours, mischievous and fictitious articles being circulated by enemies of the state, in a bid to cause chaos and discredit efforts of the Nigerian Navy and indeed Nigeria.

Representative of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, (FMOJ) Deputy Director Prosecution, Nkiruka Jones Nebo hinted that presently a charge has been filed against the defaulters in the matter adding that the matter was previously charged in the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt before Justice Turaki.

Nebo said that, “for the purpose of today’s exercise, to get peripheral information that can guide as what they are already doing, the matter has been filed and 27 defaulters in total have been arraigned from the Federal High Court which have exclusive jurisdiction to hear the matter and they were split into two; 17 defaulters were arraigned yesterday 14th November, 2022 and 10 were arraigned this morning (15th November, 2022). The Court has already remanded them to be on board for obvious reasons and their case will continue early next year 10th or 11th of January, 2023”. She explained

She also explained that the defaulters would receive punishment for the offence committed according to the Legislation Offensive Act.

“The Court still have descriptions pending on how court is able to come up with issues surrounding the matter of evidence, the conviction and then the sentence according to law”, she concluded.

Also representative from the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Ambassador N.A Ella Esq. commended the efforts of the Nigerian Navy and Nigeria Mission in Equatorial Guinea for providing information with regard to the matter.

Ogochukwu Igboamalu
For: Director (Information)