By Albert Akpor
WHEN the heavy bombardment began all within hearing radius cowered in fear or scampered to safety. The deafening, earth-shaking sound immediately conjured in their mind the image of a place suddenly being invaded by an enemy force armed with the most advanced weapons of mass destruction.
The image became more frightening given the fact that the heavy bombardment was coming from the sea which reinforced the impression that the invasion was being carried out with many war ships.
Happily enough this was not the case but rather an exercise common with the Police and the Armed Forces. In a peculiar Nigeria Police Force (NPF) language, it is called Show-of- Force, a term used when the Force takes delivery of fresh arms and ammunition, including patrol vehicles.
A practical demonstration of this entails driving round major streets of a state in convoys amidst loud blaring sirens ostensibly to sound a note of warning to criminals of its enhanced combat readiness. The Nigerian Navy (NN) on their part calls it Work-up Exercise in which case also, they test-run their newly acquired arms and ammunition aboard new ships.
The motive behind the exercise, officers say, is to equally sound a note of warning to those involved in criminal activities along the coastlines, while ensuring that officers and ratings get abreast with the workability of the fire power on board and to show how prepared they are to face any challenge at sea.
Recently the Navy took delivery of two 38-metre off-shore petrol platforms to add to her fleet. And to be sure that the ships and all the logistics on board are of functional status, it held a one week Work-up Exercise. The essence of the exercise, according to stakeholders, is to, amongst others,Â train officers and ratings assigned to the platforms on the operations of the heavy equipment, including arms and ammunition in the ships and thereafter,Â test those trained on their level of comprehension.
The one week Work-up Exercise took place aboard the two newly acquired ships, NNS Zaria and NNS Burutu. One of the events which marked the end of the one week exercise is the shooting in the high sea which instilled fear in those who witnessed it.
The heavy bombardment accompanied by the staccato sound of firing guns spewing bullets into the deep blue sea at a place called the horizon (where the sky and the sea meet) was enough to send sea pirates and other criminals in the nationâ€™s territorial waters cowering and scampering in fear. Even the accompanying journalists who are of course, not too familiar with heavy shooting took fright and quickly retired to the ship mess.
An officer of the Sea Training Unit who spoke on condition of anonymity told Vanguard Metro that the Work-up Exercise does not only enrich the knowledge of officers and ratings aboard the ships of the various equipment therein, it principally keeps them alive to their constitutional responsibility as sea riders. â€œWhat you have seen is one of the exercises marking the end of the Work-up Exercise.
The heavy shooting is normally carried out in places like the high sea to avoid stray bullets hitting friendly ships. The exercise helps the officers and ratings aboard the ships to learn the basics of the respective ships. With the shooting, you not only become relevant as sea riders, sea enemies are also put on check and on the alert. What we are doing is normally done aboard new platforms and it is in line with the CNSâ€™s policy,â€ he explained.
Earlier at the commissioning of the ships, which was done by the wife of Mr. President, Hajia Turai Musa Yarâ€™ Adua in line with Navy tradition, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Vice Admiral Ishaya Ibrahim had charged the commanding officers to report any case of dysfunctioning of the platforms â€œwith immediate effectâ€, assuring that with the new acquisition, the Navy was in a much better position to defend the nationâ€™s territorial integrity as well as protect her enormous natural and physical resources buried in the sea.
While urging the Nigerian Navy to make the best use of the new acquisition, Hajia Taru Yarâ€™ Adua said: â€œWith the newly acquired 38- metre off-shore petrol vehicles, the Navy should be in a better position to perform its constitutional role of securing the nationâ€™s natural sources which are buried in the high sea as well as protect our territorial integrity and maritime environment.
This acquisition is coming at a time when the activities of pipeline vandals and kidnapping in the Niger Delta have assumed a frightening dimension. It is therefore, hoped that the new platforms will enhance the combat readiness of the Nigerian Navy and afford it the needed wherewithal to tackle this menace.â€
Pipeline explosion:LG boss lauds security operatives
Men of the Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Police Force and SSS have been commended by Comrade Ayodele Adewale, Chairman,Amuwo Odofin Local Government for combating the fire outbreak that occurredÂ following the vandalisation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation,NNPC pipelines by suspected vandals at Ilado Kingdom in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos.
According to the local government boss, it was the timely intervention of the security operatives that saved the day, saying: â€œIf not, the incident would have been catastrophic. Following the call they received from me, they reacted swiftly and arrested the situation.
This is why I will mention their swift action to His Excellency that we have good security operatives who have been responsive and responsibleâ€.
He, however, assured that his administration would continue to embark on enlightenment campaign on the dangers of vandalisation of pipelines to lives and property within the local government area.
Engineer Anthony Onwuka, Depot Manager, ATLAS Cove who received the local government chairman at the fire outbreak spot lamented the sight of the wreckage of 13Â fibre boats, jerry cans, diggers, chisels, hammers and other fuel scooping implements used by the suspected vandals and wondered that â€œdespite governmentâ€™s persistent enlightenment campaign, this act still continues unabatedâ€.
He was, however, quick to thank Comrade Adewale for sending a distress call to the NNPC and all other security agencies.
Meanwhile, a source at the Snake Island Police station revealed that investigations were still on going and that the security operatives were still searchingÂ for possible casualties.
Fire razes UBNâ€™s office
One of the Broad Street branches of Union Bank Nigeria Plc, was Tuesday, engulfed by fire, destroying properties and other valuables worth millions of naira.
The fire which started at about midday raged for over an hour, in the first and second floors of the four-storey building situated at Number 131 of the street, as officers and men of fire services from the head office of the bank in Marina, the Nigerian Ports Authority Fire Service and the Lagos State Fire Services battled to keep the fire under control.
The inferno presented hoodlums around the area with the opportunity to loot valuables from the premises of the bank, such as computers and other items. However, it took the combined effort of security details within the bankâ€™s premises and the officials of the Nigeria Police to check the activities of the hoodlums, arresting a number of them in the process.
The major cause of the fire outbreak could not be ascertained, as at press time, while officers and staff of the branch of the bank refused to comment on the issue and the estimated worth of the properties destroyed.