The Chief Staff Officer of the Ghana Navy, Commodore Issah Yakubu, says maritime security agencies have resolved to track and crack all maritime crimes in Ghana’s territorial waters.
He says, ‘We just want to send the message across that the stakeholders are collaborating; we know what is happening out there, we are re-strategizing and we will get all the criminals.’
Commodore Issah Yakubu was interacting with journalists at Tema harbour on Saturday, after the arrest of two vessels which were involved in illegal activities in Ghanaian territorial waters.
Commodore Yakubu said, the two vessels were caught illegally transferring fuel (ship to ship) at sea, adding that, ‘Before such activities take place, certain protocols would have to be followed, but we suspected that the necessary protocols had not been followed. So we pursued them and they are now under arrest.’
He said checks on one ship revealed that it was a Nigerian vessel called MT Mamma Mary, with the registration of the second ship, Matrix I, yet to be ascertained because it had just been brought in at the time of the briefing.
He said all 11 crew members on board MT Mammy Mary, including the captain, were Nigerians with the vessel registered in Nigeria, ‘And it was this vessel which was transferring fuel to the Matrix I.’
He hinted that the crew had declared the fuel on their vessel to be 320 metric tonnes, ‘But this is just the beginning, and we are yet to do detailed investigations to find the actual quantities.’
Mr Hassan Tampuli, Acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO), National Petroleum Authority (NPA), in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), said, ‘This is just the clearest indication of our resolve not to allow the criminals an inch; if they have learnt how to fly without perching, we have learnt how to shoot without missing. We are going to be on their pursuit; we have opened fire and we are not relenting at all.’
He observed that the security agencies were done with the preliminary investigations, and ‘each agency was going to carry out their detailed investigations to trigger their mandate as far as the incident was concerned.’
He observed that apart from the fact that the vessels were not licensed in Ghana, their supposed agents were also not licensed.
He added that, ‘We are not sure whether the product type meets our domestic specs. So we will check for further details to know the appropriate sanctions to give to them.
The arrest of the two vessels was a collaboration by the Eastern Command of the Ghana Navy, the NPA, the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) and Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) Security.
By Alexander Nyarko Yeboah, GNA