By Evelyn Usman
LAGOS — The Nigerian Navy, NN, yesterday, in Lagos, arrested five persons alleged to be parading themselves as naval personnel.
However, the suspects said they were personnel of the Nigeria Merchant Navy on duty with the Lagos State Government Emergency Management Authority, LASEMA. The suspects, among who was a lady, were arrested in Obalende area of the state by the Naval Provost Personnel in full naval regalia.
Speaking on the arrest, the Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Illesanmi Alade, said items recovered from the suspects included photographs of the suspects in Naval uniform, service shoes, berets, rating caps, Nigerian Navy emblem, NN uniforms, and NN officers rank, including Merchant Navy identity cards.
He attributed the inability to adequately checkmate activities of impersonators to lack of a regulatory body to monitor the manufacturing of the service’s uniform.
He said: “The issue is that these uniforms can be manufactured anywhere. So, it will be very difficult to regulate the importation of this kind of uniform because even here in Nigeria, it is being smuggled in. But what we are saying is that if anybody is found importing any military accoutrement including uniform, he will be arrested.”
He, therefore, appealed to members of the public to be on the look out for persons who masquerade as naval personnel and report same to naval authorities in any of the formations across the country.
We are Merchant Navy not impersonators
The suspects identified as Arigo Royal (Commander), Chukwuemeka Ndubuisi (Lieutenant), Emmnuel Jolayemi and Ogundola Oluwasegun (Sub Lieutenants) and Onwuzuruike Jullite (Ordinry Seaman) said they were personnel of the Nigeria Merchant Navy on duty with the Lagos State Government Emergency Management Authority, LASEMA.
One o f them, Oluseun, said: “I am a merchant navy official and we work with the Lagos State Government under the ministry of Special Duties, Search and Rescue Operations.
“We were on our way to a meeting with the Lagos State ferry workers at 32, Lawson Street, Onikan, when we were apprehended by the Navy.
“We did not state that we were naval personnel. Merchant Navy ranks are registered under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, including the uniforms. The ranks were registered for us to have a formal background.
“The rank I am wearing is that of Lieutenant and the difference between us and the Nigerian Navy is clear. For instance, while our rank has a black background, that of the Navy has blue.”
A man who later identified himself as the head of the team, walked into the base shortly before his colleagues were to be handed over to the Police, apparently to effect their release. But he was also arrested. When the brown envelop he came with was searched, a wallet containing two identity cards bearing Captain Sunny Oyeyipo and other military accoutrements were discovered.
The suspects were thereafter handed over to the Police for further instigation and prosecution.