The Nigerian Navy says its operatives have seized 46 vessels for various infractions on Nigerian waters and arrested 240 persons during various operations in the Niger Delta region.
The navy added that its officers seized 25,008 bags of foreign rice worth N375m at sea ports and arrested 173 smugglers responsible for the importation.
It also noted that 637 illegal refineries and 933 illegal storage tanks were identified and destroyed by naval operatives in 2018.
The Navy Chief of Training and Operations, Rear Admiral Makanju Kadiri, stated this in Abuja on Monday at a press conference, while presenting the Navy’s operational scorecard for 2018.
Kadiri said the navy launched two exercises, Operations Tsare Teku and River Sweep, to check attacks on ships, onshore and offshore oil operations in the Niger Delta region.
He said, “There are threats to Nigeria’s maritime environment, including illegal bunkering, crude oil theft and maritime terrorism. Our efforts to contain these threats are a trinity of actions — surveillance, response initiative and law enforcement.
The Niger Delta region has a large number of creeks and we have to curtail the movement of criminals and crude oil robbery.
“Operation Tsare Teku led to the deployment of ships to coasts of Bayelsa and Rivers to secure onshore and offshore oil operations and to prevent attacks on ships.
We also began Operation River Sweep, where we deployed operatives to destroy illegal refinery sites. Hence, 637 illegal refineries and 1933 illegal storage tanks were destroyed.
“Also, 46 vessels guilty of infractions and 240 persons were arrested. Some of the vessels came from seven countries to tell you the transnational nature of the crime.
Furthermore, 23.1million of automatic gas oil valued at N11.08bn was seized by the navy in the Nigerian maritime environment in 2018.”
The navy chief added that the seizure of the foreign bags of rice was in line with the Federal Government’s direction to encourage local production and prevent illegal foreign importations.
He said, “The navy fleet has over 250 riverine patrol boats to survey the creeks and waters in the Niger Delta.
Between 2018 and now, 25,008 bags of rice worth N375m were seized, while 173 smugglers of the product have been apprehended.”
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The Navy Chief of Policy and Plans, Rear Admiral Begroy Ebe-Enwo, who represented Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Ibok Ete-Ibas, at the conference, said the military would continue to deploy its personnel to secure Nigeria’s maritime environment from all criminalities towards increasing the country’s economic earnings