The Nigerian Navy yesterday explained that a vessel, named Motor Tanker (MT) Heroic Idun, arrested and prosecuted for criminal offences, was released after fulfilment of the plea bargain agreement with the Federal Government.
It said the owners of the vessel made the plea agreement after due consultations in line with Section 270 (5) (a) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015.
The Navy said the plea bargain was in the interest of justice, the public and for public policy interest.
Navy spokesman, Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, in a statement, was reacting to reports that the vessel was released after offering a bribe.
He recalled that the Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC) had entered the Nigerian Maritime Environment (NME) on August 7, 2022 and headed for Akpo Field without any authorisation or clearance.
According to him, the MT Heroic Idun, with IMO number 9858058, was registered in Marshall Island and had an overall length of 336-metres, 60 metres breadth (nearly the size of 3 football fields) and a carrying capacity of 3 million barrels.
He noted the vessel’s Captain, having duly responded to Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) GONGOLA, later failed to comply with the Navy ship’s order to proceed to Bonny Anchorage to await her NNPCL papers but rather altered her course southward and proceeded at top speed towards the Nigeria/Sao Tome Joint Development Zone.
“The Navy shall continue to work in synergy with other maritime stakeholders, navies of the Gulf of Guinea states and strategic partners of Nigeria to ensure that Nigeria derives maximum benefit from its natural resources in the maritime area.
“No form of campaign of calumny or malicious online publications will distract the Navy from her unwavering commitment to the dutiful fulfilment of her constitutional mandate,” he said.