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By Dr. Chinedu Jideofo-Ogbuagu
We wish Nigerian government officials will stop this their ugly rascally behaviour of destruction, destruction and more destruction, their latest orgy of destruction being of “Tura II” – said to be a 500,000 metric tonne ultra large crude carrier (ULCC) – that was caught stealing crude oil in the Delta State area.
The master of the ship, Capt Odubiyi Samson, obviously lied that he didn’t know the mission of the ship. But what the authorities should do is make the captain take them to the vessel owner or charterer as the case maybe.
The shipowner, charterer, cargo owner and ship’s captain should all be rounded up and prosecuted to get to the bottom of this matter. Destroying the vessel – with or without her huge cargo of crude oil – is counterproductive, destruction of the main exhibit in what should be a criminal case, and this impunity is in fact illegal.
If they have destroyed the ship with the oil in her bowels, that would be stupid, as it would be destruction of the main exhibits and shielding of the thieves from prosecution. It would also further despoil the marine environment.
But we are inclined to suspect that they would fully or substantially discharge the vessel and re-steal the whole or partial of the cargo, then destroy the vessel for the gragra effect. Illegality on top of illegality, and Nigeria still loses.
At 50, the vessel is probably due for the breaker’s yard, so the vessel owner has lost little or nothing – having apparently over the past 12 years earned billions of dollars from this illicit business of oil-theft. The cargo owner hasn’t lost much either; he would simply engage another vessel to continue with his oil-theft activities.
Impunity and rascality in the maritime sector such as this must stop. Destroying tankers would not stop oil-theft. Prosecution and severe punishment for the oil thieves would.