The Eastern Naval Command of the Nigerian Navy on Friday said that the command had deactivated 175 illegal refining sites and arrested 27 vessels within 11 months.
The outgone Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Eastern Naval Command, Rear Adm. Sanusi Ibrahim, stated this in Calabar while handing over the leadership of the command to his successor, Rear Adm. Ibrahim Dewu.
Ibrahim said that the vessels were arrested for engaging in illegal bunkering, crude oil theft and other maritime illegalities.
He said that the achievements recorded were made possible through the command’s sustained patrol of its area of responsibility as well as undertaking several clearances 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 the deactivation of about 175 illegal refining sites, the evacuation of about 35,384,718 metric tonnes of illegally refined diesel and the destruction of several pirates as well as kidnappers’ hideouts.
“The command also conducted and took part in some independent, joint and combined exercises such as Operation Bekan Mmon 2, Ex Kafa Iko, Ex Beni Kekere among others, in line with the strategic directives of the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Auwal Gambo.
“Of particular interest is the recent arrest of MT Preyor 1 on Jan. 5, 2022, while transporting no less than 2,458,350 litres of crude oil in her cargo tanks and additional 10,000 litres of diesel in her service tanks without the requisite approval,” he said.
Ibrahim said that there was also an ongoing “Operation River Dominance” initiated by the Nigeria Navy Ship Pathfinder in conjunction with the government of Rivers.
He said that the operation helped to intensify patrols in the riverine areas in addition to establishing waterborne guard posts along the chokepoints.
He added that the command also recorded huge successes which include: the arrest of 13 suspects, 14-large wooden boats laden with illegally refined diesel and three 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 no less than 3,147 bags of 50kg parboiled foreign rice and bags of fertilizer.
“It is noteworthy to state that the command also recorded significant achievements in infrastructural developments across all the bases and establishments under its area of responsibility.’’
He also said that the command executed various projects within its headquarters.
He listed them to include: the remodelled office of the FOC, the remodelled gate, the newly constructed visitors’ reception and the observation post.
He implored officers and men of the command to support the incoming FOC to enable him to surpass his achievements during his time.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Adm. Ibrahim had been deployed to the Naval Headquarters Abuja, as the Naval Secretary.
The new FOC, Rear Adm. Ibrahim Dewu, in his response after receiving the flag of leadership commended the outgone FOC for all the achievements recorded during his tenure.
He urged the officers and men of the command to give him the necessary support and encouragement with a view to moving the command forward.