By Evelyn Usman
The Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ete-Ibas yesterday in Lagos, attributed the rise in sea robberies to the migration of criminals from land to the water, even as he assured that the Navy would checkmate the trend.
Speaking with journalists at the end of his three days tour round commands and naval formations under the Western Naval Command, the CNS said that the Navy had been able to block all access in water where criminals used to source for funds.
This he said , led to their migration into sea robberies , all in the bid to get money.
He said : ” You should know that most of these criminals are migrating. The reason is that when you block the access where these they get their fundings, they migrate to other means to survive.
“So far , the Navy has shut down most of the illegal refinery sites and we have been able to bottle up their activities and prevent them from going to sea. Also, with the support of other regulatory bodies, most of the boats they used out there, like the 200 horse power, have been seized. They therefore, are looking for other ways to survive . That is why when they rob on land , they run to the back waters. But the Nigerian Navy is on their trail .”
He disclosed that so far, over 5000 spaces at the back waters has been identified but was quick to add that aside the fact that the back waters was not part of the Navy’s responsibility, its patrol ships could not also navigate the areas due to its shallow nature.
On other hand, he revealed that the Navy had been able to bring acts of piracy to the barest minimal, by effectively safeguarding the maritime environment .
He pointed out that effect of the dwindling cases of piracy on the nation’s territorial waters had started rubbing off on the economy, owing to the increase in maritime activities.
He said : “So far , I think the results are there to speak for themselves. Our mandate is to provide maritime security and an enabling environment for our seafarers .
“We have been able to considerably bring down the cases of piracy on our waters. All these are well noticed in the volume of trade, as the export and import of products are on the high side . And the fishing trade is also on the increase .
” These and other more, are the positive impact our operation have on the economy.”
The CNS however, stated that the Navy was still in need of more platforms that would help in actualising its emplaced Safe Transit Corridor, a process whereby Navy’s patrol vessels would lead vessels carrying goods and products out of the country , from where the Navies of other countries would take over u til the vessels reach their destinations. He pointed out that the initiative was to provide robust protection for vessels and prevent them from being attacked by pirates.
He explained that the tour was an annual routine carried out in all commands , informing that it was aimed at appraising the readiness of the Navy , as well as to interact with men and officers , remind d them of what was expected of them, as well as discuss the way forward on security.