Navy Deploys 10 Warships, Helicopters to Curtail Oil Bunkerering

The Nigerian Navy has deployed 10 warships, two attack helicopters and over 500 ballistic boats to curtail the activities of illegal oil bunkerers on the waterways.
Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Central Naval Command (CNC) Bayelsa, Rear Adm. Umar Chugali stated this at the flag off of ‘Exercise Sea Guardian’ on Wednesday in Onne, Rivers State.
He stated that the joint military exercise conducted by both the Navy’s CNC and Eastern Naval Command (ENC) Calabar, was launched to reduce insecurity to its barest in the nation’s territorial waters.
The warships and other assets covered both the defence and navy, and the exercise is expected to last for four days at the sea.
Chugali disclosed that the exercise would be used to demonstrate the capacity and capability of the ships at sea and to secure Nigeria’s maritime space and the Gulf of Guinea (GoG).
He said that the maritime space has been inundated by some threats both onshore and offshore, hence the joint exercise that was last conducted in 2021.
Chugali informed that the objective of the exercise was to ensure that the maritime environment remained safe, secured and conducive for socio-economic activities.
He believed that the deployment of capital ships and other assets would complement the gains recorded in curbing sea piracy, sea robbery, crude oil theft and other illegalities on the waters.
“Every operation presents new sets of challenges considering that insecurity in the maritime environment is dynamic, emerging and complex.
“So, with the emerging complexities in the waterways, the navy is evolving its tactics and strategies to ensure that insecurities are reduced to the barest minimum,” he added.
Chugali said although the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) had on March 2022 delisted Nigeria from countries with sea piracy incidences, that the navy cannot afford to drop its guards.
The FOC noted that Nigeria was able to record zero piracy and subsequent exit from the IMB piracy list due to changes in the navy’s tactics and support from the government.
He pointed out that maritime crime is transboundary, hence the need for collaboration with GoG countries to ensure that fleeing criminals from Nigeria’s waters were denied entry into those nations.
To this end, he maintained that the exercise would be different from other exercises conducted in the past, promising that criminals would no longer be given breathing space in the marine environment.
He hinted that the exercise is another opportunity to send a very strong message to the remnant of criminals lurking around the maritime environment to disappear as the navy pushes to secure the waters.
The FOC ENC, Rear Adm. Olusola Oluwagbire denied reports that some naval personnel were involved in complexities surrounding crude oil theft in the country.
He stated that the allegations were unfounded since those behind the falsehood could not present any evidence to buttress their claims.
“However, we are constantly policing ourselves, and as such, any erring officer caught engaging in such illicit activities will be disciplined and dismissed from service accordingly.
“We are doing our best to present the best foot (personnel) in our deployments, both in terms of personnel and assets,” Oluwagbire concluded.

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