- Arrests, hands over five Beninnois to NSCDC, recovers smuggled petrol
Chiemelie Ezeobi in Lagos and Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Central Naval Command (CNC), Yenagoa, Bayelsa, Rear Admiral Mohammed Garba, disclosed monday that the fight against militants who have recently resumed the destruction of oil facilities in the Niger Delta would be done ‘rationally.’
Garba told THISDAY that those disturbing the peace of the region were just a minute percentage of the good people of the area, assuring that all those who are innocent should go about their duties without fear.
The naval chief who resumed a few weeks ago in Yenagoa, but had worked as the Commanding Officer, NNS Delta in Warri, noted that though the security situation in the waterways remained volatile, the force was working underground to minimise the activities of the renegade group, the Niger Delta Avengers.
“You are all aware about the security situation which is becoming volatile due to the demand of some people who call themselves the Niger Delta Avengers.
“So, we as the military are doing what it takes, before we come up with a plan of action. We have patrols and when we have information, we have protected facilities within the resources available to us,’’ he said.
On why the military has not come down heavily on the militants, like what it did in the past, where innocent residents reportedly suffered, Garba noted that the force would only apply force when absolutely necessary.
“We make sure anybody doing illegality is apprehended and handed over to the prosecuting authority because we don’t prosecute.
“The use of military is a matter of rationality. Rationality must come into it. It’s not an act of senseless passion. It must be directed by its own objectives.
Meanehile, operatives of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Beecroft, monday arrested five suspected pipeline vandals with hundreds of 25 litres jerrycans laden with stolen petrol and handed them over to the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
The suspects, Agbotou Firmin, Sohe Soule, Gbenou Daniel, Dosspu Vigor and Sodohe Olivier, were handed over to the NSCDC Lagos Commandant, Tajudeen Balogun, alongside one Yamaha 40HP outboard engine, one wooden boat and several recovered products.
THISDAY gathered that they were nabbed along Badagry Creeks in Tongeji Island by naval personnel, while conveying the suspected stolen products on a wooden boat towards Benin Republic.
Before the handover, Commander NNS Beecroft, Commodore Abraham Adaji in an interview with THISDAY said the products were believed to be from a vandalised pipeline.
He said during interrogation, the suspects claimed they were fishermen based in Port Novo, Benin Republic and that it was their boss who called them out for the business.
He said the suspects were later transferred to NNS Beecroft for custody and further investigation before being handed over to the appropriate authority.
He said: “They claimed that it was their boss who asked them to convey the product to Port Novo, where it would be sold to buyers.
“Petrol imported by the federal government is meant for local consumption in Nigeria. There is no known agreement between Nigerian and Benin Republic for the supply of petrol.
“In view of the above, I was directed to handover the five suspects, one Yamaha 40HP outboard engine, one wooden boat and unconfirmed number of product to NSCDC, Lagos command for further investigation and prosecution.”
Receiving the suspects, NSCDC Commandant, Balogun, said he is elated by the confidence which the Nigerian Navy reposed on them by deeming them worthy to judiciously investigate and prosecute the suspects.
He disclosed that other suspects handed over to them by the navy were at different stages of investigation and prosecution in court.