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Nigeria Police secure forfeiture of multi-million naira vessels linked to illegal oil bunkering

IGP's Office Obtains Court Order Amidst Ongoing Crackdown on Maritime Crime

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The office of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) has achieved a significant milestone in the fight against illegal oil bunkering by securing the forfeiture of two multi-million naira vessels, MT Harbour Spirit and MT Kali. These vessels were apprehended for their involvement in illicit crude oil activities, marking a decisive move against maritime crime in Nigeria.

In a series of coordinated operations, law enforcement agencies, including Tantita operatives and the Navy, apprehended the MT Harbor Spirit on February 4th, 2024, while the arrest of MT Kali was already underway. The IGP’s office swiftly obtained a forfeiture order from the Federal High Court, mandating the surrender of both vessels and their contents to the Federal Government.

The legal proceedings initiated by the IGP’s office have resulted in the arraignment of the crew members associated with the seized vessels. Mr. Kayode Egbetokun, representing the IGP, presented the case before Justice Abdulmalik, who granted the motion for the interim forfeiture of MT Kali and its contents to the government.

Meanwhile, Justice J. K. Omotosho presided over the case concerning MT Harbour Spirit. He ruled that the vessel and its contents would be held by the federal government for six months, pending any challenges to the forfeiture. Additionally, the judge ordered the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited to oversee the sale of the stolen crude oil found aboard the impounded vessel.

The directive includes instructions for the proceeds from the sale to be deposited into an interest-yielding account, the details of which will be determined by the Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court. This comprehensive legal action underscores Nigeria’s commitment to combating maritime crime and upholding the rule of law in its territorial waters.

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