No fewer than 30 vessels were seized by the Nigerian Navy in 2018 for various maritime crimes on the waterways, according to the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas.
Speaking through the Naval Chief of Policy and Plans, Rear Admiral Beegroy Ibe-Enwo, who represented him on Tuesday at a symposium organised as part of an ongoing joint sea exercise tagged ‘OBANGAME Express’, Ibas said the number of vessels arrested in 2018 was lower than the 37 and 45 arrests recorded in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
“Within the past three years, over 80 errant vessels have been arrested for various acts of illegality. MT TECNE and MT NIPAL were caught in the act stealing crude oil from the crude oil loading facilities in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
“Suffice to state that the Nigerian Navy arrested a total of 30 vessels in 2018 for involvement in various forms of illegality in the nation’s maritime domain.
“This indicates on the face value a downward trend when compared with 37 and 45 arrests recorded in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
“These arrests have served as deterrence and helped to support a more buoyant national economy. For instance, NNPC data indicate that crude oil losses from pipelines reduced from N51.28 billion in 2015 to N4.17 billion in 2017,” the Naval chief said.
He said the Nigerian Navy, as at December 2018, handed over 247 maritime crime cases to prosecuting agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) of which 51 had been successfully prosecuted.
“The Nigerian Navy’s seamless collaboration with related agencies has helped to create effective deterrence to criminals through the arrest and prosecution of various criminals.
Ibas also said that the Nigerian Navy and the Federal Department of Fisheries had concluded plans to acquire dedicated vessels to fight illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing in the country.
Acknowledging the worsening security situation in the Gulf of Guinea, Ibas noted that there is collaboration between the navy and maritime stakeholders in the country and regional forces to addressing the issues.
On the international front, he acknowledged the contributions of allied nations including the United States (US), United Kingdom (UK) and France for their footprints of support which have been eloquent towards encouraging and bolstering domestic and regional collaboration in practical terms and on sustainable basis.
Commending the US Naval Forces Africa (US NAVAF) for hosting the symposium, Ibas said there could not have been a better time for regional partners to talk than while the joint sea exercise was ongoing.