In a dramatic action, the Nigerian Navy has burned to the waterline the ‘MV Cecilia’, a detained ship carrying approximately 350,000 litres of illicit Automated Gas Oil, also known as diesel. The operation occurred in Woji, within the Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The Nigerian Navy Ship, Pathfinder, based in Port Harcourt, had initially apprehended the vessel on August 16, 2023. At that time, three people were taken into custody.
The maritime component commander of the Joint Taskforce for Operation Delta Safe, South-South, Navy Commodore Adedokun Siyanbade, representing the Operation Delta Safe Commander, Real Admiral Olusegun Ferrera, walked journalists around the seized vessel.
Ferrera revealed that the ‘MV Cecilia’ was not operational for the past two years and had been repurposed as a storage tank for unlawfully refined products.
He explained that the JTF Commander, South-South of OPDS, upon receiving reliable intelligence, ordered the NNS Pathfinder to carry out a covert operation in the area, leading to the vessel’s capture.
Ferrera added, “The vessel has the capacity all together including the fuel and water capacity of about 350,000 litres. The water tanks have been converted as a storage tank for this illegal products and the vessel has not been to sea for the past two years.”
In a remarkable scene on Wednesday afternoon, NNS Pathfinder personnel set the detained vessel alight, dousing it with diesel and petrol before pushing it far into deep waters ‘under extant regulations’.
A reporter on the scene observed two Naval gunboats escorting the seized ship as a tugboat pushed it into a safe location over a two-hour period. The immobile vessel was then set alight, resulting in thick black smoke rising into the sky.