By EVELYN USMAN
LAGOS — Men of the Nigerian Navy and a team of Policemen attached to Victoria Island division have uncovered a tailoring workshop in Victoria Island area of Lagos, where Navy uniforms, ranks and insignia are sown. Fifty four suspects were arrested in the process.
The joint raid which was carried out at the Federal College of Fisheries and Marine Technology, Victoria Island, was as a result of the reported lingering crisis between some students of the college and Naval personnel.
A recent clash which left one person dead and several others injured, reportedly occurred on May 28, 2013.
Following the civil unrest, the Commander Beecroft, Commodore Chris Ezekobe, while briefing newsmen on the arrest, explained that a committee was set up to look into the remote cause of the crisis, in the course of which the joint raid was carried out last Saturday.
He said: “We rounded up about 54 illegal occupants living in the school. We also ran into some students that were kitted in uniform leaving the premises at about 4.30 a.m.
“The truth is that most of these individuals operate on a platform known as Merchant Navy and in the past have impersonated the Nigerian Navy. This is becoming a little too much to handle. So, we thought it wise to raid these miscreants because they have Navy ID cards and also put on the paraphernalia of the Nigerian Navy, thereby misrepresenting us across the nation.
“These young men you see, pay themselves N8000 to register and get themselves an ID card.”
However, Divisional Police Officer , Victoria Island, Mr Adegoke Fayoade, a Chief Superintendent of Police, explained that of the 54 persons arrested, 31 of them were released.
The released persons, he said, were identified by the management of the Federal College of Fisheries and Marine Technology as students.
He said: “Some of them are students who came in for carry-over courses, some have extra years, while others were identified as genuine students of the institutions.”
Five of the suspects identified as Adom Godwin, Tijani Hassan, Edward Ite, James Agoju and Omorupa Rose, who were arrested in a bus with number plate KSF 757 XD at about 4.30 a.m, claimed they were going for a relative’s wedding ceremony in Akwa Ibom when they were arrested. However, when the vehicle was searched, five swords and navy uniforms were reportedly found.
Recovered at the tailoring workshop were Navy stickers, identity cards, badges, uniforms, naval shoes, army and navy ranks, sewing machines and identity cards bearing professional body of seafarers.
Military men patronise us —Suspect
One of the suspects, Hassan Taiwo, 21, who was arrested in the tailoring workshop, said those who usually came to pick the uniform from his boss were military men.
According to him, “I have nothing to do with the production of the uniforms. I am only an apprentice. I came in on April 4, 2013 to learn tailoring, specifically native attires.
“I have never sewn any of these uniforms. My boss did. After sewing, some uniformed men come to pick them. I don’t know who they are and I also don’t know how much they pay for them. I was only arrested because I slept in the shop on the day of the raid.”