The Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder, Port Harcourt, has said it arrested 11 men for allegedly parading themselves as naval personnel in Rivers State. Commodore Sanusi Ibrahim, out-going Commander, NNS Pathfinder, Port Harcourt, disclosed this while handing over the suspects to the Rivers Police command, wednesday. He said the suspects used navy uniforms and paraded themselves as “merchant navy” with intent to defraud unsuspecting individuals and companies in the state and environs. According to him, the suspects were caught in the act by operatives of the Nigerian Air Force who reported the matter to the navy. “On June 17, the Air Police of the 97 Special Operations Group, Nigerian Air Force Port Harcourt, arrested 11 civilians around Rukpokwu police checkpoint parading themselves as naval personnel. “The air police later handed over the suspects to us (navy) to enable us conduct investigation to ascertain if they were truly naval personnel, among other details.
“During investigation, the suspects claimed that they were members of merchant navy, and which further findings revealed the organisation was fictitious.
“This is because there is no extant law in the country backing any organisation with the name or sobriquet, merchant navy,” he said.
Ibrahim, represented by Lt.-Cdr. Ayi Archinbong , Regulating Officer, NNS Pathfinder, said the organisation was fictitious and had been operating illegally in Port Harcourt for a long period of time.
He said the group’s activities had tarnished the image of the navy, adding that troops were currently on trail of leaders of the organisation to bring them to justice.
“The effect of this fictitious group on the navy is that when they commit offence, the public will think they are genuine naval officers not knowing that they are fake,” he said.
Ibrahim urged the public to provide information to security agencies that would lead to arrest of criminals, assuring that identity of the informant would be kept in utmost confidentiality.
The suspects were later handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department of the Rivers Police command to conduct further investigation and possible arraignment in cour