In line with the policy of the Federal Government to secure oil pipelines, the Western Naval Command (WNC) of Nigerian Navy (NN) has expanded its operations to curtail pipeline vandalisation and illegal oil bunkering in the creeks
The Command, which is saddled with the responsibilities of seaward defence of Nigeria’s maritime space, combating illegal activities like piracy, sea robbery, illegal bunkering, crude oil theft, smuggling, poaching, dumping of toxic wastes and trafficking of arms, has also increased coastal surveillance to protect the nation’s territorial waters.
The Command Operations Officer, Commodore Olu Bankole, said this, while delivering a lecture on, ‘Coastal Surveillance’ , at a training organised by Financial Business & Maritime Newspaper, for maritime Journalists, in Lagos.
According to him, “Surveillance activities have been further enhanced by the Falcon Eye Alignment Centre. Similarly, robust presence was maintained in the creeks and adjoining land where activities of pipeline vandal were scuttled and seizures of various items recorded. Robust policing in the Command helps to drastically reduce incidence of illegalities in Nigeria’s maritime domain. The WNC succeeded in maintaining credible Naval presence at sea over the years. During patrols we arrested a number of vessels. A notable successful operations carried out at sea recently is the forceful boarding and capture of seven suspected pirates, on 27 February this year. One of pirates was killed in action onboard MT MAXIMUS.”
He added, “The Command also recorded many activities in the areas of sustained internal security operations, prudent use of resources, improved welfare programmes, training/ development of manpower and enhanced cooperative engagement. Patrols by surface vessels were made possible due to maritime domain awareness information from the Regional Maritime Awareness Capacity (RMAC) facility, and aerial surveillance by own helicopters”.
He continued, “ The Command continues to offer Internal Support to its host States of Lagos and Ondo. The Command also reinforced presence at Tongeji Island in Ogun State. The WNC serves as the forward mounting base for NN deployments to the Special Joint Task Force Operations in the Northern part of the country. The Command recently successfully rotated personnel to OP SAFE HAVEN in Jos,on 18th March, 2017. In this respect, we provide orientation on weapons handling, code of conduct during the operations, debriefing and conduct of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) assessment for personnel returning from joint task force operation.”
Additionally, the Command is presently engaged in Ikorodu and environs to curb pipeline vandalism and illegal bunkering activities in the area. The operation tagged OP AWATSE has made significant strides in containing pipeline vandalism and other criminal acts, to ensure protection of NNPC pipelines from Atlas Cove terminal up to Mosimi depot. The OP AWATSE also supported the Lagos State Environmental Management Agency (LASEMA) in the recovery of 100,000 X 50 litres jerry-cans used for illegal bunkering in creeks within Arepo, Isawo, Ellepete communities in Lagos and Ogun States.”
In his remarks, the Secretary General, of Nagaff Dr. Arthur Igwilo, said there is urgent need for government to invest more in the maritime sector, in order to increase revenue generation for the economy. He said, “Oil revenue is what we are using now to run our economy. We must remember that one day, oil will finish, but the sea will never dry”. The training that was supported by APM Terminals, Nagaff, Maritime Journalists Assocation of Nigeria (MAJAN) and Western Naval Command drew Journalists from different media houses across Lagos.