The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, has revealed that the Nigerian Navy has expanded its bases and units by creating mobile stations to fight maritime crimes in the Niger Delta.
Ibas also said the Navy was in the process of creating additional checkpoints on the waterways to cover hoodlums flash points in the region.
He stated these when he, in company with the Flag Officer Commanding, Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral Mohammed Garba, and other senior naval officers paid a courtesy call on Bayelsa State Governor, Seriake Dickson, at Government House, Yenagoa, on Monday.
The Deputy Governor of the state, Rear Admiral John Jonah (retd.), received the CNS and his entourage on behalf of Dickson.
The naval chief said he was in the state to conduct inspection of Naval bases and establishment, saying the exercise had afforded him the opportunity to evaluate and access naval equipment and infrastructure.
Ibas said, “The Navy came into the state about five years ago. I am also aware that the presence of the Navy has changed the maritime security landscape of the state and indeed the Niger Delta area in fighting maritime crime which is of concern to all well meaning Nigerians.
“I want to assure you that the Nigerian Navy together with our sister security agencies will do all within our powers to ensure that we create an enabling environment that will allow for legitimate use of maritime space.
“I wish to use this forum to commend the state for its logistics support to the Navy. We have expanded our bases and units now to create mobile stations which enable us to be closer to the people and to tackle maritime crimes. We are also in the process of creating additional checkpoints to cover flash points in the region.”
Ibas, who said he had been able to appraise and evaluate the security architecture on the ground, noted that the Navy had enhanced its operational capacity by acquiring more gunboats that had been allocated to various units.
He also stated that the Navy had been able to put in place, infrastructure to support its operations in various bases and units, adding that they had conducted training both locally and abroad to prepare the personnel to be able to man the various equipment in place.
“We are hoping that when we put all these together, the Navy is going to be more proactive in delivery of services and with the various exercises we are conducting, we will be able to rid Bayelsa State and the maritime environment of the criminal elements in the region,” he stated. Dickson, represented by his deputy, John Jonah, said his government was always determined to rid the state of criminal elements.
The governor said the government had always believed that what is acceptable in Bayelsa is zero tolerance for crime and criminality and that the government had always worked towards that principle.
He said, “For Bayelsa State to be secured, the waterways must be secured. That does not mean that we will leave the land. We know that people go to river to harvest for land use.
But the area of harvest is where the contest is now and the national establishment that has the responsibility, resources and training to do that for the country is the Navy.
“So, the Nigerian Navy needs the encouragement from all of us to ensure that the riverside areas and maritime environment are safe.
“If we continue to collaborate more with sister security services, consistent with availability of logistics to carry out operations, we are going to have a very peaceful Christmas. Again, even after Christmas, we are going to sustain operations.”
He urged the Naval authorities to create more of those mobile stations in the state, saying that Bayelsa is “more riverine than Rivers State and more delta than Delta State”.
Dickson said that his belief was hinged on the fact that if the security agencies and the relevant authorities continued in the same spirit, the state and the region would be rid of criminals.