BY MUDIAGA AFFE, CALABAR
Officers and men of the Nigerian Navy Ship Victory on Thursday in Calabar, Cross River State, impounded a Cameroonian vessel,¬†MV Anna Maria,¬†which breached Nigeria‚Äôs territory waters.
The ship loaded with passengers and goods, our correspondent gathered, incurred the wrath of the Navy when it failed to stop at Nigeria‚Äôs international maritime boundary for Nigerian Naval officials to escort her into the country‚Äôs territorial waters.
The ship is at the National Inland Waterways Authority base in Calabar.
Commander of¬†NNS Victory, Navy Commodore James Oluwole, who addressed journalists in Calabar, said the vessel, which ran foul of the maritime law, would however be released after due investigations had been concluded.
He said, ‚ÄúThe problem of Calabar water channel is of international dimension. There is persistent kidnapping of vessels and captains from Cameroon all, which gives Nigeria a bad name.¬† The Nigerian Navy has put in place proper strategy; unfortunately, the operators do not adhere to these instructions. One of the solutions is proper coordination.
‚ÄúWe detained the vessel because it berthed without information. The captain has written a statement to show that they had no patience to wait where we used to pick them. We will not tolerate this again. Proper timing and departure is the rule. We are determined to ensure that there is no harassment of vessel in our waterways.
‚ÄúThis is what we have resolved. The Navy is here to give you the best but you must cooperate. The Navy will continue to do its job. For the past three months, no vessel has been attack because of naval policing.‚Äù
Captain of the ship, Tankwa Dieudonne, who blamed officials of the Nigerian Navy for the lapse, said he sailed into the country after waiting at the boundary for a long time.
He, however, apologised for his action and promised not to do so again.
The Calabar Area Manager of NIWA, Mr. Adetola Olawale, advised other vessel operators to learn to do the right thing to avoid running into trouble with the authorities.
Following the incidence of kidnapping at the Gulf of Guinea, the Nigerian Navy last January introduced the idea of escorting vessels entering and exiting the country from the maritime boundary with the Republic of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.