By Maram Mazen

Nigeria’s navy said it handed over 15 Russian crew members to police for questioning after their ship was found to be carrying weapons and ammunition without valid documents.

The Russian nationals were detained in October and transferred to police on Jan. 7 for further investigation, navy spokesman Commodore Kabir Aliyu said by phone today from Abuja, the capital. “The ship is still in the custody of the navy,” Aliyu said.

Attacks by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta and other militant groups in the Niger delta, home to Nigeria’s oil industry, cut output by more than 28 percent from 2006 to 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Nigeria blames the violence on armed groups that exchange weapons for stolen oil.

Disruptions eased after thousands of fighters, seeking a greater share of oil revenue for the region’s inhabitants, dropped their weapons and accepted an official amnesty. MEND refuses to disarm, saying the government hasn’t met its demands.

Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer, with average output of 1.9 million barrels a day in December. The West African nation lost $7 billion to oil theft in 2011, Central Bank of Nigeria Governor Lamido Sanusi said in May.

Copyright 2013 Bloomberg.
Cover photo via Shutterstock
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