By Ifeyinwa Obi
The Nigerian Navy has assured of effective policing of waterways in the Niger Delta before and after the general elections.
New Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral, Henry Babalola, who spoke in Port Harcourt, said the deployment of troops on the waterways was in compliance with the request of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) adding that it was part of move to guard against ballot box snatching and issues of electoral violence.
He said the Navy would continue to assist the electoral body to deliver credible elections to Nigerians.
He said: “The dictates of standard operating procedures guarding military operations. We will standby to assist INEC to provide security to transport electoral materials to riverine areas, when we are called upon.
“We will standby to create an enabling environment that will allow voters to lawfully and legally come out to cast their votes.
“Subverting electoral process starts from when thugs import arms and ammunition to cause problems, and so we are deploying one helicopter to join the naval flying unit here, and patrol boats to ward-off ships bearing arms to the militants.
“It is a trying moment for our nation, and so the idea is that at the end of the day, we will be on top of the game to create a conducive atmosphere for the elections to take place.”
Continuing, he said his men were free to vote for candidates of their choice but should do so in mufti and should not hang around polling booths after casting their votes.
He further warned them against openly campaigning for any of the political parties
Babalola said the navy would soon take delivery of three warships to enhance its security operations.
“Very shortly, the Commander in Chief (of the armed forces) and the Chief of the Naval Staff will be commissioning three additions to the Nigerian navy fleet – and they are very big ships.”