The Nigerian Navy has deployed troops on board six warships and 60 gunboats in a special military exercise to tackle pirates, oil smugglers and other criminals in the Niger Delta region.
Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command (ENC), Calabar, Rear Adm. David Adeniran, announced the deployment at the flag-off of the exercise in Onne, Rivers.
The operation was code-named, ‘Exercise Sanga Sung,’ meaning ‘Safe Transit’ in Ibibio dialect.
Adeniran said the two-day exercise, aimed at consolidating on similar Exercises Bekan Mmon I and II, would hold on the territorial waters of Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Ebonyi and Rivers states, under the ENC.
“Exercise Sanga Sung is one of the numerous operational engagements that the Eastern Naval Command (ENC) is currently undertaking to safeguard the nation’s maritime environment.
“The purpose of the exercise is to check the state of preparedness of our fleets and training of our personnel,” said the naval chief.
He said that personnel of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigerian Immigration Service and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) would also participate in the exercise. Others are the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Customs Service.
“The other security agencies are participating in the exercise knowing that safety and security of our maritime environment cannot be provided by a single security agency.
“Also, there are so many personnel involved in this exercise from our naval headquarters, Defence headquarters, Western Naval Command and Central Naval Command, among others.
“However, physically on ground, we have six major ships that would be going out to sea as well as 60 gunboats participating in Exercise Sanga Sung,” he said.
The FOC said that Operation “Bekan Mmon” conducted in 2018 and 2019 recorded successes, including the arrest of over 600 suspected oil thieves and pirates and the destruction of over 200 illegal refining sites.
According to him, no fewer than 11,000 metric tonnes of stolen crude oil as well as over 15,000 metric tonnes of illegally refined diesel were recovered during the exercise.
“In addition, we also intercepted and recovered about 25,000 bags of 50 kilogramme of par boiled rice during Exercise Bekan Mmon I and II.
“So, going by the successes, it became imperative that we consolidate on the gains recorded with exercise Sanga Sung,” he said.
Adeniran called for the support of stakeholders to ensure a secured and peaceful maritime environment and warned criminals to desist from maritime crimes.