By Evelyn Usman
The Nigerian Navy has arrested an American, four Greece and five Nigerians on board Sea Angel 3 boat, over questionable dealings bothering on alleged illegalities on the nation’s waters within Lagos State.
Recovered from the suspects were sophisticated weapons and military kits.
The arrest was made during the just concluded maiden joint military operation code-named Operation Junction Rain, initiated by United States Navy/Coast Guard to deter pirates and other maritime criminals from operating on the nation’s water and the Gulf of Guinea.
Briefing journalists during the handover of the suspects and the exhibits to the police, yesterday, at Nigerian Navy Ship, NNS Beecroft‘s parade ground, the Officer-in-charge of Tactical Command, OTC, Commodore Dickson Olisemenogor, explained that the arrest and startling discovery were made during a search conducted on the ship.
How they were arrested
On how the suspects were arrested, he said: “During the operation, we interrogated over 100 ships, boarded about 40 of them and in that process, the vessels that were suspected to be carrying out illegal activities on our water were stumbled on.
“When we interrogated Sea Angel 3, the captain made us believe there were only five Nigerians on board. The boat was painted Navy colour, which made us be more suspicious. They were also not beaming their necessary electronic gadget at sea, which would indicate their position as stipulated by the International Maritime Organisation. So, that attracted us.
“We boarded it, only to discover that there were more than five people on board. There were five Nigerians, four Greece and an American. Further search on the boat revealed that they had four MI 1 rifles, this is a very dangerous rifle that can do anything at sea. There were over 1000 rounds of ammunition and various military kits too.
“Before now, we have made an arrest and handed them over to the relevant agencies but somehow, activities of these criminals continued to recur on the sea. So, this time around we made a detailed interrogation and search of ships at sea within the period of the operation.”
The mission of the suspects on the sea was unknown, as he informed that further investigation by the police, which would probe further, would ascertain that.
Receiving the suspects and the recovered arms and ammunition, Deputy Commissioner of Police, INTERPOL, Alagbon, DCP Tunji Akingbola, said the outcome of the investigation would be made public.
He said: “I have been instructed by the Inspector-General of Police to take over all the exhibits and suspects for further investigation. I want to assure the public that we are going to have a discreet investigation and the suspects will be brought to book accordingly.