…Arrests 42 vessels over oil theft
By Joseph Erunke
ABUJA-THE Nigerian Navy, Tuesday, said it has acquired a total of 179 high speed boats in the last one year to tackle insecurity in the Nigerian maritime environment.
Six out of the boats, which are occean fast patrol brands, recently acquired from France, are billed to be launched in the Nigerian waters after formal commissioning that is expected soon.
The Navy which briefed the media in Abuja, through the Chief of Naval Transformation, Naval Headquarters, Rear Admiral Begroy Ibe-Enwo, also disclosed that a total of 42 vessels were arrested in connection with oil theft and other unwholesome practices in the Nigerian maritime domain.
The briefing, he explained, was to acquaint the public with the focus of the Nigerian Navy and its activities, especially those programmed to mark the 62nd anniversary celebration of the Nigerian Navy expected to take place between May 23 and June 1st.
Rear Admiral Ibe-Enwo said:”The Nigerian Navy recently acquired six OCEA Fast Patrol Boats from France which will be commissioned soon.
“It is my great pleasure to inform you that concomitantly, the Nigerian Navy also acquired a total of 173 assorted boats, including Epenal Boats, Rigid Hull Inflatable Boats, and Hydrographic Survey Boats in the last one year.
“These boats have gone a long way in bolstering Nigerian Navy capacity to police and carry out survey of Nigeria’s maritime environment.”
On the arrested vessels, he said:” Available records show that in the last one year, the NN has sustained aggressive patrol within the nation’s maritime environment covering over 22,000 hours. In the process at least 42 vessels have been arrested for involvement in various illegalities in Nigeria’s maritime domain and undergoing various stages of investigations and prosecutions.”
“Furthermore, he explained that the Nigerian Navy personnel are involved in various Internal Security operations in the coastal states of the Federation and some other states including Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Plateau States amongst others.”
He emphasized that the Nigerian Navy was aware of the current state of sooth over Port-Harcourt and environs.
” Currently, action is being taking to address this concern which is inclusive of stakeholders engagement and the establishment of a dedicated task force to address the matter. Very shortly the issue will be effectively dealt with, to bring lasting solution, “he said.
He said it was the desire of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ete-Ibas,to have an impressive naval fleet of operational ships, manned with competent and motivated personnel.
“This is borne out of the conviction that a people make a navy and only well motivated naval personnel can contribute meaningfully towards accomplishment of the statutory roles of the NN.
” To this end, the Chief of the Naval Staff has placed a high premium and priority on training, motivation and availability of naval ships and helicopters. Currently, efforts are ongoing to enhance the quality of local training.
“This is being done through accreditation of Nigerian Navy training schools with relevant professional bodies and institutions of higher learning as well as upgrade of Nigerian Navy training facilities, “he added.
He spoke further:” The Nigerian Navy is simultaneously complementing the local training with foreign training. Also, plans are underway to enhance motivation of the personnel through the introduction of additional welfare programmes such as the Micro Mortgage Finance Cooperative Bank and construction of more barracks accommodation for the naval personnel and their families.”
The Chief of Naval Transformation said there has been enhanced surveillance over the country’s maritime environment in recent times.
” This has been made possible through upgrade of available maritime surveillance equipment, which includes the Regional Maritime Awareness Capability (RMAC) and Falcon Eye systems.”
” Accordingly, the Nigerian Navy has nine Regional Maritime Awareness Capability, RMAC sites established at Badagry, Bonny, Naval Base Apapa, Ibaka, Brass, FOB FORMOSO, NHQ as well as the Headquarters of the Eastern and Central Naval Commands.
“Similarly, the Nigerian Navy is working towards increasing its Falcon Eye system from nine sites at present to 12. When completed, these facilities will enable the Nigerian Navy expand its surveillance coverage of Nigeria’s maritime domain, with more effective check on illegality, “he further explained.
While noting that the recapitalization of the Nigerian Navy fleet had been a top priority consideration of the Chief of the Naval Staff,Ibe-Enwo said it had adopted a double-pronged strategy towards achieving this objective.
Hear him:” On one hand, ships are being acquired from some foreign countries while on the other hand, the Nigerian Navy is complementing with local construction of ships and boats.
“In addition, defective Nigerian Navy ships are being refitted at the Naval Dockyard Limited Victoria Island Lagos and the Naval Shipyard Limited Port Harcourt to ensure their availability.”
Speaking on the exercises and operations carried out by the service so far since the current administration begins, he said the outcome of the operations were highly successful.
“The NN successfully conducted the 2018 edition of Exercise OBANGAME EXPRESS from 22–27 Mar 2018 off the coast of Bonny, Brass and Lagos. The multi-national exercise was aimed at enhancing cooperation, information-sharing and prosecution of trans-border maritime crimes by member-states of the Gulf of Guinea.
” Four NN ships and 2 Agusta helicopters participated in the exercise alongside some naval ships and Maritime Patrol Aircraft from France, Portugal and the United States of America. In addition, elements of the NN Special Boat Service carried out boarding operations during the exercise. It might interest you to know that in addition to the NN, 30 foreign countries from Africa, Europe and America took part in Ex OBANGAME EXPRESS 2018.
“The maritime exercise has assisted the NN in reducing the menace of piracy and other criminal activities in the Gulf of Guinea since its inception in 2011.”
“Locally, the Nigerian Navy has been unrelenting in its operations to protect the nation’s maritime environment against all forms of threats to the country’s interests. In this regard, the NN routinely carries out surveillance and patrol of the maritime area with available surveillance systems, ships and helicopters.
“Such policing operations are specifically aimed at checking crude oil theft, illegal bunkering, piracy/sea robbery and illegal fishing among others. OP TSARE TEKU and RIVER SWEEP are ongoing operations to address illegalities in the Blue and Brown waters respectively. I am delighted to inform you that in spite of daunting challenges, the NN is encouraged by the success it has recorded so far.
Speaking on the 2018 Navy Week, Rear Admiral Begroy Ibe-Enwo said the 2018 Navy Week Celebration will be carried out in the five commands of the Nigerian Navy.
“The programme will commence with the commissioning of some projects in the Commands. Notable among the projects is the Nigerian Navy Military School, Ikot Ntuen in Akwa Ibom State which will be commissioned on 23 May 18.
“Thereafter, Special Juma’at Prayers for the 2018 Navy Week activities will be held in Abuja area and the Commands on 25 May 18. On Saturday 26 May 18, the Commands will carry out Medical Rhapsody.
“The Rhapsody is a grassroot social and medical outreach programme usually held in rural communities where there is naval presence or where the Nigerian Navy is having a major event.
“It is estimated that a large number of people will benefit from the exercise. On Sunday 27 May 18, the NN will hold Inter-Denominational Church Service in Abuja and simultaneously in the Commands. Additionally, some NN ships will be open to visitors the next day in the major naval bases at Lagos, Calabar and Port Harcourt.
” The ships will remain open to visitors till Wednesday 30 May 18, when the 2018 Regional Maritime Exercise (REMEX) will be flagged off at the Naval Dockyard Limited, Victoria Island, Lagos.
“The REMEX is an international event in which ships from at least 7 foreign navies, including the US Navy, Chinese Navy, French Navy, Portuguese Navy, Ghana Navy, Cameroonian Navy and Togolese Navy will take part.
” The objective of the REMEX is to enhance collaboration between the NN and foreign navies in combating security threats in the Gulf of Guinea. Furthermore, the exercise will afford the Chief of the Naval Staff the opportunity to evaluate the operational effectiveness of the naval fleet individually and collectively.
“The exercise will dovetail into the International Maritime Conference (IMC) which will be held at the Admiralty Conference Centre, Naval Dockyard Limited, Victoria Island, Lagos on 31 May 18. “