The immediate past Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) of the Eastern Naval Command (ENC) Rear Adm. Henry Babalola, has said that the Command has arrested 30 ships in the last nine months due to its steady presence at the sea. Rear Admiral Babalola disclosed this in Calabar yesterday during a handing over ceremony to his successor, Rear Adm. Atiku Abdulkadir. Babalola said that the ships were arrested under his leadership as the FOC of the Command.
He said that the ships were arrested for conveying adulterated crude oil and other stolen products on the waterways.
“It is to the glory of the command that during my watch as FOC, we had gallant officers who had the passion to ensure that crude oil theft and maritime crimes are reduced.
“In the last nine months, we have arrested a total of 30 ships which include tug boats, Cotonou boats, and we have as well arrested a good number of oil thieves. The Command under my watch has also destroyed several illegal refineries on a daily basis. We get the information, we proceed on patrol, we arrest and destroy them’’, he said.
According to him, the destruction was done in line with the Nigerian Navy’s mandate, which is to clampdown on crude oil theft and illegal refineries. He said that the damage which illegal refined product does to car engines, generators and boats was unquantifiable. “When we arrest a ship, we go further to investigate its patrons and hand them over to the relevant government agencies, such as the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, among others for prosecution.”
“When we arrest a ship, we go further to investigate its patrons and hand them over to the relevant government agencies, such as the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), among others. We maintain a steady patrol on our maritime domain to ensure we secure the nation’s economic assets and other multi-million dollar offshore investments and platforms’’, he said.
On civil military relationship, Babalola charged men of the Navy to desist from treating members of the public as `bloody civilians’. He said that the era of military brutality has gone, adding that the civil populace has the right of expression on any issue of public interest. “Nigeria as a country went through several military rule for many years, but with the present democratic system, I think we are back to normalcy.
“In line with global practices, all these `bloody civilian’ ideology must stop. The citizens of this country deserve their fundamental human rights. Throughout my stay as FOC in the ENC, we never had any case of litigation or complain of military brutality’’, he said. Babalola who have been transferred to Naval Headquarters Abuja as Chief of Training and Operations also said that he received two navy ships `NNS Okpabana’ and `NNS Centenary’ during his leadership. He said that the ships were donated to the ENC to boost their fight against crude oil theft and other maritime crimes.
– Edem Edem, Calabar