As Portugal, France joins Continental navies to celebrate Nigerian Navy in regional sea exercise
By Raphael Jov
The Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) DELTA on Wednesday in Warri, handed over a vessel with more than 386,000 litres of stolen crude and nine suspects to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The Commander, NNS DELTA, Commodore Ibrahim Dewu while addressing the newsmen, before handing them over at the Warri Naval Base, said the vessel christened MT Nipal and the Nigerian suspects were apprehended on Jan. 31.
It was gathered that the commander said that they were nabbed by the navy personnel while allegedly siphoning crude oil at the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Afremo field.
“MT Nipal was apprehended Jan. 31, 2018. The suspects were caught while siphoning crude oil at the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) Afremo field.
“It had 386,000 litres of crude oil and four out of the eight tanks of the vessel bore the product.
“We have carried out our investigations. Today, we are handing over the vessels with its crew, about nine Nigerians on board, to the EFCC to carry out full investigations,” he said.
Dewu, who said that the navy would not relent in ridding the Nigerian territorial waterways of illegalities, advised the perpetrators to seek a better and alternative means of livelihood.
“I advised those who indulged in the illegal oil business to desist from carrying out these illegal activities.
“If they want to go into oil business, there are proper ways to go about it. They should stay away from illegal oil theft because it is an economic sabotage,” he said.
Mr Richard Ogberagha, Senior Detective Superintendent (SDS), EFCC, Benin office, who led some members of the commission, promised to fully investigate the vessel and suspects.
“EFCC will carry out preliminary investigations to determine the evidence of the involvement of the people,” he said.
Meanwhile, no fewer than 12 ships from within and outside the continent have signified their intention to participate in a regional maritime exercise to commemorate the 62nd anniversary of the Nigerian Navy.
The Chief of Naval staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ibas indicated this during the flag off of Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) OKPABANA on Wednesday in Lagos.
The naval chief said that the two-day exercise, code named “Exercise EKU KUGBE”, opened on Wednesday to promote regional cooperation.
“The exercise also enjoys the support of other friendly navies beyond the Economic Community of West African States and Economic Community of Central African States Regions.
“Twelve navy ships and one each from Cameroon, Ghana, Togo, China, France and Portugal will participate in the exercise.
“The exercise is aimed at promoting regional cooperation and coordination for the enhancement of maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea (GOG),” he said.
The CNS said that the Gulf of Guinea was rich in both living and non-living resources, including oil and gas and fisheries.
“It is also the primary conduits of international trade and is central to the economy of the associated regions.
“The gulf is increasingly looked upon today as resource provider and critical contributor to national growth and prosperity of the several nations lining its coasts and even those landlocked and with no shared boundaries,” he said.
According to the CNS, the gulf is faced with myriad of potent threats in and around its environment.
“These include maritime terrorism, resource theft and sabotage of their supporting infrastructure.
“Other notable threats are piracy and armed robbery which target maritime trade and therefore the economy of the nations.
“The use of unregulated movements at sea for seaborne trafficking in humans, narcotics and arms, and the incidents of smuggling are pervasive and remain issues of grave concern.
“It is imperative that an environment conducive for the unhindered conduct of shipping, fishing and offshore exploration and other maritime interests that contribute vitally to economic growth and national development is established,” Ibas said.
The CNS said it was in keeping with this concept that the navy and indeed all of these contingents conduct frequent reinvention.
“Thus, Exercise EKU KUGBE is consolidating the advocated regional cooperation which is increasingly the preferred approach to tackling threat migration across national borders,” he said.
The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, who flagged off the exercise, said it was critical toward sustaining the resources and huge potentials of the GOG.
“I am happy to note that within the limits of available resources, the navy has been focused and pro-active in combating the myriads of threats and illegal activities in Nigeria’s maritime domain extending to the GOG.
“A sea exercise such as the one we are about to embark on can only take place when the ships are operational.
“I therefore congratulate the navy and all the other participating nations on their ability to maintain their assets and make them operationally ready for the exercise.
“As you proceed, I implore you to be alert to your responsibilities and charge you to put in your best in order to maximize the opportunity and consolidate the gains achieved towards securing our collective maritime domain,” he said.
Present at the flag off ceremony was the Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Rear Adm. Sylvanus Abbah, amon