Nigerian Navy says it has acquired state of the arts equipment with capacity to mount surveillance across Nigeria’s coastline as part of strategy to eradicate the scourge of oil theft in the country.
Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin made the remarks while speaking to State House correspondents in Lagos. Though Nigeria loses about N1.5 billion daily to oil theft, the new Chief of Naval Staff believes the Navy now has the capability to put the nightmare called oil theft in abeyance.
“Fighting oil theft is a mandate giving to me in particular. I am mandated to check the illegalities in the maritime sector. Apart from oil theft and illicit bunkering, we are equally looking at illegal fishing, poaching, piracy, sea robbery and the likes.
“What we have decided to do is to establish the areas that are notorious for these criminal activities. Instead of wasting time to pursue shadow, we have decided to change our strategies and tactics of doing these jobs”, he said, stressing that the Navy has decided to fight the war not on the pages of newspapers again.
“All I intend to do is to properly deploy our boats and vessels to areas we will establish as sore points and make sure that all would-be culprits, suspects or persons involved in criminalities are properly and brought to justice”, adding that with the right ships, boats and maritime helicopters, the task is within reach.
“We are also conscious of the fact that there are competing needs of Nigerians and the Federal Government may not able to meet all at the same time. But we should be able to discharge our statutory responsibilities; perform our duties with what we have and be able to reduce the effect of illegalities to the barest minimum, even if we cannot eliminate them in a flash. We will do our best to ensure the illegalities there are properly checked”, he said.
He explained that maritime crimes have been going on in the Gulf of Guinea adding that countries bordering the Gulf of Guinea are all concerned with the effects of crimes on their development.
“We have established regional maritime awareness capability. We have certain equipment for surveillance, enabling us to monitor the movement of ships. We monitor all the ships that operate there with AIS. We monitor them and all their activities at seas. When their activities tend to be inimical to maritime security, we deploy accordingly to check.
“Let me give you example. Recently a ship was involved in piracy off the coast of Angola. The Angola Navy called on the Nigeria Naval Headquarters. We deployed boats to go after the ships. The ship is MT Kerela. Right within our shore or waters, we mounted surveillance, kept them busy and kept on their toes that they could not land on our habours…. After sometime, they released the ship and the people that we were captured. We wanted to interrogate them.
“They refused to disclose their identities. What we did is trail them to the Port of Tema. We alerted the Chief of Naval Staff in Ghana. They too deployed their boats accordingly and arrested MT Karela. And under our directives, MT Karela was arrested and is still under custody for further investigation in the Port of Tema in Ghana. That is to exemplify that we are working together to check illegalities in the Gulf of Guinea with more synergy”, he said.
Emmanuel Thomas, Lagos