The immediate past Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Henry Babalola, on Friday said the Navy arrested 30 ships involved in illegal activities on the high sea in the last nine months.
Specifically, Babalola said that the ships were arrested for conveying adulterated crude oil and other stolen products on the waterways.
Babalola, who has been redeployed as Chief of Naval Training and Operations, said this in Calabar, Cross River State during his handing over ceremony to his successor, Rear Admiral Atiku Abdulkadir.
He said, “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.
“In the last nine months, we have arrested a total of 30 ships which include tug boats, Cotonou boats, and we have as well arrested a good number of oil thieves.
“The Command under my watch has also destroyed several illegal refineries on a daily basis. As soon as we get the information, we proceed on patrol, we arrest and destroy them.”
According to him, the destruction was done in line with the Nigerian Navy’s mandate, which is to clampdown on crude oil theft and illegal refineries.
He lamented that the damage caused by illegally refined product on car engines, generators and boats was unquantifiable.
“When we arrest a ship, we go further to investigate its patrons and hand them over to the relevant government agencies, such as the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, among others for prosecution.
“We maintain a steady patrol on our maritime domain to ensure we secure the nation’s economic assets and other multi-million dollar offshore investments and platforms,” he said.
On civil military relationship, Babalola charged men of the Navy to desist from treating members of the public as `bloody civilians.’
He said that the era of military brutality was gone, adding that the civil populace has the right of expression on any issue of public interest.
“Nigeria as a country went through several military rules for many years, but with the present democratic system, I think we are back to normalcy.
“In line with global practices, all this `bloody civilian’ ideology must stop. The citizens of this country deserve their fundamental human rights. Throughout my stay as FOC in the ENC, we never had any case of litigation or complaint of military brutality,” he said.
Babalola also said that he received two navy ships `NNS Okpabana’ and `NNS Centenary’ during his leadership.
He said that the ships were donated to the ENC to boost their fight against crude oil theft and other maritime crimes.
Responding, the new FOC, Rear Adm. Atiku Abdulkadir, who was the Chief Staff Officer of the Command, commended Babalola for his achievements.
Abdulkadir solicited the cooperation of personnel in the command and promised to fight crude oil thieves and other maritime crimes.
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