The authorities of the Nigerian Navy have clarified the controversy of the alleged acquisition of seven gunboats by an ex-Niger Delta Militant Leader, Chief Ekpemupolo, (aka Tompolo) saying the boats belong to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.
The Chief of Training and Operations of the Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Austin Oyagha, said during a press briefing in Abuja yesterday that the reports that Tompolo had acquired warships or gunboats were untrue.
He explained that the said gunboats belong to NIMASA and were being manned by personnel of the Nigerian Navy from the Maritime Command of the service in consonance with a pact between the agency and the Navy.
Oyagha explained that NIMASA had a responsibility to ensure safety of the nation’s port and had to enlist the services of the Navy to enforce that responsibility since the Agency lacked the constitutional powers to carry arms and ammunition.
He said, “I want to state categorically that no individual has acquired gun boats into this country. The gunboats being alluded to actually belong to NIMASA and these boats are currently being manned by personnel of the Nigerian Navy.
“And as you are all aware, Nigerian Navy has collaboration with NIMASA of which we have a maritime component attached to the organisation in support of the statutory responsibility in ensuring the safety of our harbor approaches to our anchorage,” he said.
He also dismissed claims that the gunboats had Tompolo written on them stressing that no such boat was operating in Nigeria’s territorial waters.
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