Nigeria, Cameroon to form joint military patrol in Bakassi

The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Usman Jubrin, on Friday said Nigeria and Cameroon would establish joint military patrol and intelligence sharing to combat increasing militancy at the Bakassi Peninsula.

Jubrin, who made the disclosure while on tour of naval formations in Port Harcourt, Rivers, said that the partnership was aimed at checkmating piracy and oil theft in both nations’ territorial waters.

He said that the United Nations’ designation of the area as “demilitarised zone” was partly responsible for the militants’ continued perpetration of illegal acts in the peninsula.

“We are facing challenges in the area due to the United Nations designation of Bakassi as a demilitarised zone because it is a disputed area between Nigeria and Cameroon.

“Nigeria handed over Bakassi to Cameroon; however, there are some militant groups that believe that peace cannot unfold within the channel.

“So we are making efforts to check it by discussing with the Cameroonian navy for a joint patrol of the channel.

“The Cameroonian Chief of Naval Staff will soon arrive in Nigeria for us to work out modalities to checkmate the illegalities and place adequate troops within the channel,” he said.

Jubrin disclosed that the Federal Government recently acquired two warships and several gunboats, and sponsored the training of officers and ratings to improve the navy’s proficiency in policing the nation’s territorial waters.

The CNS said that the warships which were built in China and United States would arrive in the country before the end of 2014 “to complement other security agencies’ efforts to combat security challenges facing the nation.

He said that navy’s deployment of new strategies on the nation’s maritime had drastically reduced the spate of attacks on oil and gas installations.

He disclosed that from January, 2014 to date, naval personnel impounded 70 foreign and local ships suspected to be involved in illegal oil bunkering and piracy and also seized several boats laden with stolen crude.

“The seized vessels and boats, together with suspected oil thieves and pirates, are currently facing different levels of prosecution to act as deterrent to others.

“This is an indication of the Federal Government’s commitment to tackling the menace,” he said