The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has donated three patrol boats worth 20 million dollars to the Nigerian Navy (NN) in a bid to boost the force’s capability at sea, safeguard the nation’s maritime domain and check maritime illegalities.
This is just as three suspected impostors who were posing as naval personnel were arrested, paraded and handed over to the Agboju Police Division, Area E Command by personnel of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) WEY.
The boats, a 32-metre OCEA and two 17-metre MANTA class boats, were built in South Africa and handed over to the navy at the Western Naval Command (WNC), headquarters, Apapa in Lagos.
Receiving the vessels on behalf of the Chief of Naval Staff, (CNS) Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), WNC, Rear Admiral Sanmi Alade, said the boats came at the appropriate time considering the prevailing challenges in the nation’s maritime domain.
While reiterating the importance of the maritime domain to the nation’s economic growth, Alade said the donated boats would assist the force in its fight against oil thieves and other economic saboteurs at sea.
“The nation’s principal Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOC) for export and import trades traverse through these major seaports. Therefore, there is need to protect these strategic assets underscore the significance of the occasion. “The acquisition of these platforms are a notable step in our joint efforts towards the establishment of a Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Takwa Bay, which is a strategy aimed at securing the ever busy Lagos waters against the activities of pirates, illegal oil bunkerers and pipeline vandals”, he said.
In response, the Managing Director NPA, Mallam Habib Abdullahi said the patrol boats were bought for the navy to enhance its capacity in the surveillance of the nation’s maritime space.
He said the presentation was a demonstration of NPA’s commitment to collaborating with other maritime stakeholders to ensure security both in and off shore.
He said, “The OCEA was named NNS DORINA (P101), while the MANTA boats were named NNS TORIE (P258) and NNS EGEDE (P259). With their unique operational features and capacities, the boats will augment navy’s search and rescue fleet.
“To enhance our commitment and support to navy’s surveillance of the nation’s territorial waters, the NPA in collaboration with Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has plans to rehabilitate the FOB of the navy located at Takwa Bay.”
The parade which was held at NNS WEY compound, at Navy Town, Satellite Town, Lagos, was organised by the Commander, Commodore James Iliya, and had in attendance men of the police division.
The suspects who were identified as Abdullahi Salisu with fake service number X51747; Anyanwu Obinna with service number X10120 and Eduntola David with service number E9840, were parading identity cards with numbers 1754/11, 6145 and 100/04, respectively.
While admitting to his offence, one of the suspects, Anyanwu who had been parading with the fake identity card for over a year said he was arrested in naval uniform (action rig).
He said, “My first foray with the maritime sector was after I did a course with the Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR), Victoria Island. When I was done with school, I was jobless and had no means of livelihood.
“I got the identity card a year ago from a naval personnel and with it, I had access to all naval formations because the card identified me as one of them.”
Another suspect, Abdullahi who was arrested by the Operation Mesa (OP Mesa) at the Tincan Island area of Apapa also said he got the identity from yet-to-identified personnel.
The 34-year-old Eduntola said, “I am a merchant navy and I work onboard ship as a sailor. I went to Maritime Academy, Oron. I wear the uniform just to find my way out of transport fares.
“I know now that what I did was wrong. I am asking that the navy tampers justice with mercy. What I did is a disgrace and I don’t want my child to see me like this.”
While calling on Lagosians to report such cases to the appropriate authorities, Iliya said the incident was lamentable because it was coming at a time when terrorists carry out acts of terror on military uniforms.
He said, “In recent times, we have had cases of terrorists in military uniforms that carry out their nefarious activities in the guise of being military personnel.
“You cannot rule out such cases hence the arrest of suspected impostors whenever we get them. Once investigations are concluded, we hand them over to the police for prosecution.”
He said efforts are on to check sales of military accoutrements across mammy market within military formations in order to help curb the influx of impostors who perpetuate crimes under the guise of the uniform.
He said, “We have communicated to the NN headquarters about those who sell military uniforms in military formations and we are waiting for response before we expedite
“In the interim, we have taken stock and cross-checked it with their books to know their customers. We then cross check this data with the service numbers of the buyers. That way, we eliminate the fake from real personnel.”