By Benson Akomo
The Nigerian Navy (NN) on Wednesday blamed foreigners for responsible for most of piracy, illegal bunkering and other sea crimes committed in the nation’s maritime domain.
Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Western Naval Command (WNC) Rear Admiral Sanmi Alade said at the command’s headquarters in Lagos, while receiving crew members of visiting British ship, HMS Iron Duke that the NN was poised to take full control of the nation’s waterways and rid it of private security and criminals, noted that ?the country’s waterway was not a private affair.
“Giving the occurrences at our waters, the NN is now set to take complete ownership. A Lot of people and nations have interest in our waters for obvious reasons,‚Äù he said.
“With the decline of piracy in the Golf of Eden, it would not be wrong to say that most of the elements have left that area and found their way in the Golf of Guinea, including our waters.
“Some foreigners have been arrested in our waters for perpetrating illegalities.
“Most of criminality in our waters are carried out by foreigners and not Nigerians. The era when the navy had challenges of platforms will soon be over because we will take delivery of some ships before the end of the year and command our waterways.
“We will take full command once again and there will be no need for private security here and there because our water is not private.
“We have some private security companies registered with the NN, they have a memorandum of understanding with us like the Ocean Marine Company, we allow them operate with their vessels but normally attach our personnel to such vessels.‚Äù
On allegations that multi-national oil companies engage in illegal oil bunkering, Alade said illegal bunkering was not being treated with kid gloves, adding that anyone arrested is being appropriately dealt with.
“Piracy and illegality at sea are not beyond us. The responsibility of ensuring the security of the Nigerian maritime domain is that of the Nigerian Navy and we are poised to take total control of the Nigerian waters and rid it of any form of illegalities,‚Äù he said.
Speaking earlier, Commanding Officer, Her Royal Majesty Ship (HMS) Iron Duke, Commander Tom Tredery said the ship came to Nigeria to work and train with the NN.
He said, “We are looking forward to training and exercising together. The roles of the Navy are to work together and ensure that that freedom and safety is in place.
“Our range of training includes navigation, engineering, damage control and fire fighting, boarding party and security operations.
“The security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea are primarily piracy and maritime crime, which is clearly a threat to all countries and not just Nigeria. When there is a crime at sea, it affects every nation because so much of the world’s trade flows by sea.
“So, it‚Äôs important that the merchant ships are able to operate confidently and safely.
“HMS is a frigate that is approximately 20 years and we were deployed about five weeks ago and we will patrol for six months in the South and North Atlantic Ocean and we have four countries already and we will visit six more before we return to Britain.”
Meanwhile, a military vessel formally belonging to a European country navy has been arrested along the Lagos waterways by naval personnel.
The vessel now known as MV EMER, according to Alade was arrested because the owners did not get navy’s approval before bringing in a decommissioned military ship.
He said, “We arrested the vessel last week because it was formerly a naval ship belonging to one of the European countries.
“Giving that it is was military vessel, the owners should have sought military approval before bringing it into our waters but they did not.”