The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Usman Jibrin, said on Thursday that continued collaboration among the security forces was the answer to curbing maritime insecurity and enhancing national development.
Jibrin made the remark at a public lecture he delivered at the University of Ibadan, as part of activities to commemorate the golden jubilee anniversary of the institution’s Department of Political Science.
The lecture is entitled: “Curbing Insecurity in Nigeria’s Maritime Domain for National Development”.
Represented by Rear Adm. Raphel Osondu, the naval chief said that curbing the myriad of insecurity pathogens in the nation’s maritime environment would involve a robust and effective surveillance system.
According to him, the Navy is a highly technical force that needs to constantly adapt to developments in the maritime environment.
“It is an undisputable fact that Nigeria’s economic centre of gravity lies within the maritime domain, which falls within the operational sphere of the Nigeria Navy.”
He said that a conducive, safe and secure atmosphere would, therefore, be vital to harnessing the enormous resources in the maritime domain for national development.
Jibrin said that the threats that constitute security challenges in the country’s maritime domain were due to both internal and external factors.
He explained that the threats manifested in the form of crimes such as crude oil theft, illegal bunkering, piracy, smuggling, illegal arms trade, drugs and human trafficking.
“In spite of these challenges to the Nigerian Navy’s operational effectiveness, the Navy is constantly evolving strategies aimed at surmounting the myriad of security challenges in the maritime domain.”
“The strategy includes the application of the maritime trinity of actions comprising surveillance capabilities, response initiatives and enforcement action,” he said.
The CNS mentioned some of the efforts at curbing insecurity to include: a targeted patrol regime, the establishment of regional maritime awareness capability centre and regional collaborative efforts.
The Naval Chief, however, said that the Navy would remain undaunted of the challenges as it continues to strive to evolve smarter maritime policing measures.
Earlier, the Head, Department of Political Science, Prof. Osisioma Nwolise, said that the department was concerned about ensuring that the Nigerian Navy was up to the task of fulfilling its mandate.
According to him, Nigeria is a coastal nation with several kilometres of inland waterways, hence the establishment and maintenance of a powerful Navy was imperative.
The Vice Chancellor, Prof Isaac Adewole, represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic), Prof Idowu Olayinka, said the topic of the lecture was germane, in view of the challenges facing the country.
He said that it was the university’s desire to promote productive civil-military relations, and to learn from the Navy.
“We look forward to the day Nigeria will not only launch its own warships, but also submarines, as our Navy repositions itself for enhanced efficiency,” he added.
The Department of Political Science at the University of Ibadan was founded in 1963.
In a separate development, the Nigerian Navy said it has seized 200 drums laden with substance suspected to be by-product of illegally refined crude oil, while no fewer than 31 suspects were arrested.
The security outfit said the seizure and arrests were made during a raid in the slaughter area of Port Harcourt, Rivers capital on Wednesday.
The Commander of the Nigeria Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder, Rumuolomeni, Commodore Godwin Ochai, said this while handing over the suspects to the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, in Port Harcourt yesterday.
Ochai further said that another 2,000 drums, used for transporting and distribution of the illicit product, were also impounded during the raid.
He explained that troops stormed the area after being tipped off on activities of oil thieves who hid under the cover of the rowdy and busy Slaughter Market to carry out their illegal activities.
Ochai, who was represented by Lt.-Cdr. Abdullateef Mahmud, said the navy also impounded nine wooden and speed boats during the operation. He said, “Based on intelligence and timely report that suspected crude oil thieves were operating in this area; troops stormed the area in our mandate to stop attacks on the nation’s oil installations.
“Yesterday (Wednesday), at about 0430 hours, we raided Slaughter area and impounded about 200 drums containing suspected by-product of illegally refined crude oil.
“We also impounded about 2, 000 empty drums used for distribution and transporting of products, and nine wooden and speed boats used for their illegal business.
“After the raid, we were able to arrest 31 male suspects involved in oil theft and bunkering,” Ochai added.
The commander said the navy would continue with its 24-hour surveillance of the waterways in its bid to stop oil theft, pipeline vandalism and sea piracy.
He also urged the public to provide the navy with timely information that would lead to the arrest of those undermining Nigeria’s maritime safety and the economy.