By Chiemelie Ezeobi
The Nigerian Navy has declared war on oil bunkering, sea robbery, piracy and other criminal activities that take place within the maritime domain of the nation’s waterways.
The NN Chief of Training and Operations (CTOPs), Naval Headquarters, Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogbor, said the quest was in pursuance of the mandate of President Goodluck Jonathan, to stamp out illegalities in the nation’s maritime domain.
He made this disclosure yesterday on-board Nigerian Naval Ship (NNS) Thunder, at the kick off of the major fleet evaluation exercise code-named Exercise Farauta, a Hausa word for hunting.
According to him, the aim of the exercise is to intensify the ongoing naval operations in the Niger Delta region and would pay emphasis on Bonny-Akassa-Escravos axis, an area which, he said, was notorious for crude oil theft.
He said: “The exercise will enable the NN to assess its operational capability with a view to identifying gaps and taking necessary measures to fill such gaps for enhanced operational readiness. The synergy of this effort will ensure full mission accomplishment across the threat spectrum with specific emphasis to immediately end all criminal activities in the Niger Delta region.”
Ogbor said a total of eight ships, six gun boats and three helicopters including elements of the Nigerian Army and Maritime Patrol Aircraft of the Nigerian Air Force will be taking part in the exercise.
Speaking on the role of the Nigerian Army (NA) in the exercise, the Commander, 2 Brigade Port Harcourt, Brig-Gen. Tukur Buratai, said they were geared to launch assault on any illegality.
He said: “We are on board the ship as standby troops in case of any emergency. Per adventure we are required to, we will assault any illegal refinery or any criminal hideout discovered during the operation.”
Also, the Command Operations Officer, Mobility Command of the Nigerian Air Force (NAF), Yenogoa, Bayelsa State, Air Commodore Joseph Adeleke, said the responsibility of NAF was purely surveillance-inclined.
He said: “Our job is to carry out surveillance and give the navy feedback. We give them grid reference on the location of ships and then they will deploy their ships to that particular location.”
The ships involved are Nigerian Naval Ships (Thunder), Zaria, Andoni, Makurdi, Burutu, Obula, Nwamba and Kyanwa.
Others are, six gun boats, Augusta Helicopter 07, Augusta Helicopter 08, Augusta 08, one Nigerian Air Force Maritime Patrol aircraft.