The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba, has called for the prosecution of suspected oil thieves and other criminals engaged in illegal activities along the country’s waterways.
Ezeoba made the call on Wednesday in Calabar after the inspection and inauguration of some projects undertaken by the Eastern Naval Command (ENC), in Calabar.
He said that the enforcement and prosecution of the suspects would serve as a deterrent to others with similar intentions.
He said lack of prosecution of the suspects was one of the operational challenges the force was facing in the fight against criminality in the country’s maritime boundaries.
He said that the Navy also had challenges of inadequate platform but added the challenges were being addressed.
“To police our large maritime boundaries requires a lot of platforms in the right places. We need helicopters, operational patrol vehicles, human capacity and above all, technology that will provide us with a requisite surveillance.
“And to large extent enforcement, which means that those who have been arrested for engaging in act of illegality are prosecuted in courts of competent Jurisdiction and appropriate punishment meted to serve as deterrent to other people. And I think all of that is coming on stream. Very soon we begin to see a very high level of compliance by Nigerians, particularly, as it pertains to rules and regulations governing the maritime industry,” the Navy Chief stated.
He said that the Eastern Naval Command had been able to check illegal activities along the waterways within its area of operation.
“The ENC from the demographic that we have and the operational chart would have been able to reduce, to a very large extent, the act of vandalism particularly along the Calabar River and Akwa Ibom River. This has given seafearers and commuters, who use the waterway, more confidence on our water-ways,” Ezeoba said.
He said that the command had lived up to expectations by adding value, which had enhanced professional capability of the Navy towards attainment of the strategic objectives of the force.
He solicited for the full cooperation of the public to enable the Navy succeed.
Ezeoba had earlier inaugurated some projects, including street light project at the Eastern Naval Command Headquarters.