The Eastern Naval Command (ENC) of the Nigerian Navy says it has arrested 25 ships, conveying adulterated crude oil and other stolen products along the Calabar-Oron waterways, in the last seven months.
Outgoing Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) the ENC, Rear Adm. Atiku Abdulkadir, disclosed this in Calabar Friday during a handing over ceremony to his successor, Rear Adm. James Oluwole.
According to Abdulkadir, the ships were arrested under his leadership of the Command.
“In the last seven months, we have arrested a total of 25 ships which include tug boats, Cotonou boats, and we have as well arrested a good number of oil thieves.
“It is to the glory of the command that during my watch as FOC, we had gallant officers who had the passion to ensure that crude oil theft and maritime crimes are reduced.
“The Command under my watch had also destroyed several illegal refineries on a daily basis. We get the information, we proceed on patrol, we arrest and destroy them,” he said.
He said that the destruction was done in line with the Nigerian Navy’s mandate, which was to clampdown on crude oil theft and illegal refineries.
“We also maintain a steady patrol on our maritime domain to ensure that we secure the nation’s economic assets and other multi-million dollar offshore investments and platforms,” he said.
He also highlighted that during his leadership of the command, the Nigerian Navy Ships `Okpabana and Sagbama’, rescued a hijacked foreign ship `MT Maximus’ off the coast of Sao Tome in February 2016.
“It was during my leadership in the command that the Nigeria Navy Ships Okpabana and Sagbama rescued a foreign hijacked ship `MT Maximus’ off the coast of Sao Tome with 18 crew members.
“We will continue to maintain our presence at sea in other to curb illegal movement, sea piracy, hijack of passengers’ vessels, oil theft and others,” he said.
He identified funding as one of the challenges he encountered during his leadership of the command.
He however, urged men and officers of the ENC to give his successor the necessary support to enable him move the command forward.
Responding, the new FOC, Rear Adm. Oluwole, commended Abdulkadir for his achievements at the command.
Oluwole, who solicited the cooperation of all personnel in the command, promised to fight crude oil thieves and other maritime crimes in his area of responsibility.
In a separate development, the Nigerian Navy on Friday said it had impounded a wooden boat laden with 27 jerry cans of stolen petrol from suspected pipeline vandals at the Atlas Cove area of Lagos.
The authorities said that the seizure was made on Thursday night after the vandals abandoned the boat on sighting a naval team and fled into the bush to evade arrest.
Commodore Abraham Adaji, Commander of NNS BEECROFT, which carried out the operation, told journalists that the navy was determined to rid the country’s waterways of oil thieves and vandals.
”We are also in partnership with local authorities that are closest to where these assets are and who are the first to know if anything is going on,” he said.
Adaji said that the navy was “fully equipped and ready to fight to an end, pipeline vandalism and oil theft”, adding that the Chief of Naval Staff had zero tolerance for maritime offences.
He warned perpetrators of illegal acts to seek legitimate means of livelihood.
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