BY KINGSLEY OMONOBI
Abuja ‚Äî The Nigerian Navy declared, yesterday, that following strong surveillance and response capability of the force at sea with regards to ensuring security and safety, over 968 crude oil tankers successfully lifted 82, 122, 452 metric tons of crude oil on behalf of the federal government between January and September 2013, without being attacked by pirates or robbers.
Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Joseph Ezeoba, who made the disclosure, noted that the success was made possible as a result of increased maritime law enforcement capability which is the third leg of the Trinity of Actions, initiated to checkmate crude oil theft, piracy, ship hijacking and other criminal activities in the maritime sector.
Speaking through the Director of Operations at Naval headquarters, Commodore Joseph Okojie, the CNS said: “In line with this trinity, arrested suspects are regularly being handed over to the EFCC, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corp and the Nigeria Police for prosecution”, adding that “a recent example is the handing over of 61 oil thieves to prosecuting agencies on September 25 by the Central Naval Command.”
Expressing worry that piracy, crude oil theft and other illegalities have been a major source of revenue leakage in the country, Okojie said, “Arising from the Presidential mandate to checkmate maritime crimes, the CNS promulgated the first Nigerian Navy Strategic Guidance 1, aimed at eliminating these cankerworms.
“It provides for signature obligation on the field and unit commanders. It also places additional obligation on the field commanders to bolster the operational capability of the Navy, for which they have signed performance contracts.”
Giving a picture of the challenges the Nigerian Navy was faced with, Commodore Okojie said, “It is estimated that there are over 5, 779 oil wells, 9, 717kilometres of pipelines, 112 flow stations, 16 gas plants and 126 production platforms, floating Production Storage offloading and Floating Storage offloading platforms, as well as other critical maritime assets and infrastructure”.
Towards fulfilling the response capability of the force as contained in the trinity of actions, Commodore Okojie said, “The asset recapitalization of the Navy has resulted in the acquisition of some Seaward Defence boats, helicopters and support facilities to enforce statutory responsibilities.