The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has officially confirmed and given reason why of some top management staff of Integrated Oil and Gas Limited including the chairman, Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho, suspected of being part of a cartel involved in the hijack of vessels and stealing of petroleum products were arrested.Iheanacho is a former minister of interior
A statement by Lami Tumaka head public relations of NIMASA said while briefing newsmen at the Nigerian Maritime Resource Development Centre in Kirikiri, the Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Barrister Callistus Nwabueze Obi said this was a follow up to the parading of some hijack suspects on Monday by the DG, Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi.
He said investigations revealed that stolen products from a hijacked vessel were stored in a tank farm operated by Integrated Oil and Gas Limited which led to the arrests of Captain Iheanacho and other management officials of the company suspected to be part of a cartel involved in this nefarious activity and the closure of the Integrated Oil and Gas Limited facility.
The Executive Director who explained that the management of NIMASA is poised to do everything within the ambits of the law to make sure all suspects found culpable face the full weight of the law also said the Agency is bent on ridding the Nigerian waters of all forms of criminality.
He also assured the Nigerian people of the commitment of the current leadership at NIMASA to fight criminality in the maritime domain to a standstill warning all those still involved in the act to desist forthwith or face the full wrath of the law.
Barrister Obi who debunked claims that the arrests were a calculated attempt at destroying Integrated Oil and Gas Limited observed that stolen products were traced to their tank farm “and in law, when stolen property is found on anybody, that person becomes a useful component in the investigation process”.
The Executive Director told newsmen that the suspects who are already in custody would be handed over to the appropriate law enforcement Agencies for further investigation and consequent prosecution.
Also speaking, the Commandant of the Maritime Guard Command, Navy Capt. Promise Dappa explained that the arrested persons have been interrogated and have made some useful statements that would aid the cause of the investigation.
He said other companies including financial institutions are on the Agencies radar and would soon be brought in to explain their roles in this syndicated crime.
It will be recalled that the Director General of NIMASA. Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi had in a press conference last Monday assured Nigerians that the Agency is on the trail of major financiers of hijacking and petroleum products theft and that it is doing everything within the confines of the law to have such persons arrested and prosecuted.
This latest arrest is a result of the successful collaboration between NIMASA and the Navy, the Army, the Air Force and the Nigeria Police under the auspices of the Maritime Guard Command.
Latest reports however said Iheanacho has been released from detention.Equally, he has been telling reporters that the entire development is part of the plot to ruin his business.