Obiagulu commended the Navy for being an effective and reliable partner in the fight against oil theft.
The Commander, NNS Jubilee, Ikot Abasi, Commodore Saidu Garba, who spoke at the handing over in Ikot Abasi on Saturday, said the suspects were arrested by naval special patrol team.
Garba added that 13 of the 17 suspects were arrested at Mobil Jetty in Ibeno Local Government, while four suspects were arrested at Ataba Community.
“Let me reiterate that the Chief of Naval Staff strategic directive is aimed at stamping out all forms of illegalities and criminality in the Niger Delta region.
“It is therefore our firm resolve to vigorously pursue this agenda and rid out bad elements in the region,’’ Garba said.
He said that items recovered from the suspects, include 47, 450 litres of liquid suspected to be diesel, five Cotonou wooden boats and 188 empty drums of 250 litres each.
“These illegal activities amount to assault to the collective interest of the nation and constitute huge economic sabotage running into millions of naira,’’ Garba said.
According to him, the Navy will continue to provide adequate security and combat all security challenges within the nation’s maritime domain for national development.
The NSCDC commandant, Mrs Obiageli Obiagulu, who received suspects and exhibits, commended the Navy for being an effective and reliable partner in the fight against oil theft.
Represented by Mr Abel Ojimba, the NSCDC Divisional Officer in charge of Ikot Abasi, Obiagulu praised the Navy for its effort in ridding the state of other criminalities in the maritime domain.
“We must expect the best as far as prosecution is concerned because due process has been followed in the handing over. I want to commend the Commander of NNS Jubilee for making sure that the documentations are ready,’’ Obiagulu said.
Obiagulu assured that the intelligence and legal departments of the corps would immediately effect thorough investigations with a view to prosecuting the defaulters.
She said the suspected products would be taken to the exhibit yard for testing and reassured that whoever was involved in the oil theft would not go scot-free.
Obiagulu said that the command was synergising with Nigerian Navy to ensure that oil theft and other criminalities were stamped out in the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the suspects were arrested between Sept. 10 and Oct. 5 in the state.