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EXERCISE OBANGAME EXPRESS 2022: Nigerian Navy Arrests Vessel, 7 Benin Republic National Involved in Illegal Activities

Recall that Exercise OBANGAME EXPRESS 2022 was flagged off by the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo on 11 March 2022. On Day 5 of the Exercise, the Nigerian Navy arrested MT QUEEN OF PEACE, a Vessel of Interest for over a year.

The vessel was last sighted at the Trans Amadi Jetty in Port Harcourt, before she switched off her Automatic Identification System (AIS) and proceeded on 3 weeks of dark (unknown) activities but was successfully intercepted South West of Bonny Fair Way Buoy on 15 March 2022.

The dark activities of the vessel was monitored by the Nigerian Navy Falcon Eye Surveillance System and Nigerian Navy Ship EKULU was detached from the Exercise OBANGAME to intercept and arrest the vessel. Subsequent interrogation revealed that the vessel with 14 crew members onboard was laden with unspecified quantity of crude oil.

Additionally, the vessel was unable to provide appropriate documentation from the point of loading as well as documents and authority of her intended operations. These therefore led to the arrest of the vessel and she is currently at Nigerian Navy Forward Operating Base BONNY for further investigation and possible hand-over for prosecution.

Exercise OBANGAME EXPRESS 2022 has also seen the arrest of seven Beninoise in a long wooden boat fully loaded with unspecified petroleum products from questionable sources. It would be recalled that the Exercise is the largest multinational maritime exercise in West Africa with 32 countries participating in their respective maritime area
from 11 – 18 March 2022.

Meanwhile, as part of the relentless effort of the Nigerian Navy in fighting maritime illegalities, Nigerian Navy Ship PATHFINDER at Naval Base Port Harcourt also arrested and handed over five suspected oil thieves with a diesel – laden barge and a tug boat to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on 14 March 2022. These arrests depicts and reinforces the Nigerian Navy’s resolve to consistently sustain its aggressive posture against oil theft and other maritime illegalities.


                                                                                AO AYO-VAUGHAN


                                                            for Chief of the Naval Staff

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