The court had convicted the crew and directed that the stolen crude should be forfeited to the federal government, while the vessels be returned to their owners.
The vessels had been impounded and stationed at the Naval facility Forward Operating Base (FOB) Formoso in Brass, Bayelsa.
MV TIS IV had been detained for two years, and the barge had been in custody for six years, following allegations of engaging in crude oil theft.
The release of the vessels was carried out in compliance with the directive of the Naval Headquarters as per the court's decision.
The handover took place in a brief ceremony at the FOB, Egwema, Brass, led by Navy Captain Murtala Rogo, represented by the Executive Officer, FOB, Commander Dantani Bukar.
Rogo recounted the circumstances that led to the detention of the vessels, stating that MV TIS IV was seized on December 5, 2021, in a creek within Akassa River, Bayelsa, while the Barge Podium was apprehended on May 15, 2017, around Alaki area, Rivers State.
He mentioned that MV TIS IV had 17 crew members aboard and was carrying around 700,000 liters of suspected stolen crude. The vessel, along with its crew, was handed over to the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) for prosecution.
He explained that the crew members were found guilty and sentenced by the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt.
"The court ruled that the vessel's contents be forfeited to the federal government, and this was done on February 23, 2023, after the EFCC evacuated the content.
Additionally, the court ordered that the vessels be released to the owners on bond. FOB Formoso was instructed by the Naval Headquarters to facilitate the vessel's handover to the owner in the presence of EFCC representatives," he noted.
Commander Rogo emphasized that FOB Formoso will persist in aligning with the strategic directive of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Emmanuel Ogalla, in combating oil theft and illegal bunkering in the maritime domain.
He affirmed that the Nigerian Navy remains committed to ensuring the security and safety of the maritime domain for legitimate business activities to prosper and contribute to the national security objective.