The Nigeria Navy has said it deactivated 175 illegal refineries and arrested 27 vessels engaged in illegal bunkering, crude oil theft and other maritime illegalities under eleven months of its operations in Cross River State.
The outgoing Flag Officer Commanding, FOC, Eastern Naval Command ENC, Rear Admiral Sanusi Ibrahim made this known in his valedictory speech during the handing and taking over ceremony held at headquarters of Eastern Naval Headquarters, Calabar on Friday.
He said the arrest followed effort of the navy to reduce incidents of piracy and other forms of illegalities within Nigeria’s maritime domain.
Ibrahim who handed over to his successor, Rear Admiral Abdullahi Dewu, stated that the Command sustained effective patrols of its maritime Area of Responsibility (AOR) as well as undertook several Clearance and Swamp Buggy operations in the back waters.
He noted further that the Command, under his watch, apprehended criminals who were in possession of 35,384,718 metric tons of illegally refined automotive gas oil, AGO, stressing that the product were evacuated with pirates and kidnappers hideouts being destroyed by men of the navy.
“The Command sustained effective patrols of its maritime Area of Responsibility (AOR), as well as undertook several Clearance and Swamp Buggy operations in the backwaters.
“These operations resulted in a considerable reduction of piracy in Nigeria’s maritime domain, as well as led to the arrest of 27 vessels engaged in illegal bunkering, Crude Oil theft and other maritime illegalities.
“Other achievements include deactivation of about 175 illegal refining sites and still counting, evacuation of about 35,384,718 metric tons of illegally refined AGO and destruction of several pirates as well as kidnappers’ hideouts.
“Of particular interest is the recent arrest of MT PREYOR 1 on 5 Jan 22 conveying about 2,458,350 litres of Crude oil in her cargo tanks and additional 10,000 litres of AGO in her service tanks without requisite approval.
“There is also an ongoing OP RIVER DOMINANCE initiated by NNS PATHFINDER in conjunction with the Rivers state government. This operation intensified riverine patrols in addition to establishing waterborne guard posts along the check points.
“Huge successes were recorded which include the arrest of 13 suspects, 14 large wooden boats laden with illegally refined AGO as well as 3 barges each carrying about a million litres of suspected stolen crude oil.
“This is in addition to the Command’s anti-smuggling efforts which led to the seizure of over 3,147 bags of 50kg parboiled foreign rice as well as 1,184 25kg bags of fertilizers amongst others,” The outgoing FOC maintained.
Ibrahim solicited for support to the incoming FOC in a bid to surpass his own achievements.
In his remarks, the incoming FOC, Rear Admiral Dewu, appealed to officers and men of the command to give him the necessary support in the task ahead.
The new FOC said:”The responsibilities of the command are very high and demanding that we must go over and beyond the call to duty in securing the maritime domain towards ensuring the peace and security of land towards engendering the prosperity of our great nation.
“I must however state that ,I’m only the head of the command ,and I need the support of the entire body to achieve my goals ,I therefore solicit the support of everyone to make this happen.”