Incidence of Piracy, Other Crimes in Coastal Areas Decline, Says Navy

  • Troops recover large cache of ammunition in Borno

Senator Iroegbu in Abuja

There have been decreasing incidents of piracy and other criminal activities in the coastal areas of Nigeria after the special anti-piracy campaign, code-named Operation Tsera Teku, launched in April by the Nigerian Navy. A check by THISDAY revealed that the country witnessed the heaviest sea attacks between January and May, while June and July saw the least occurrences.

In a related development, troops on the Operation Lafiya Dole, the counterterrorism operation by the military in the North-east, yesterday recovered a large cache of ammunition at a residential area of Bulabulin Ngarnam, in Borno State. The soldiers had been deployed at the outskirts of Maiduguri, the state capital, following a tipoff from the Civilian JTF, a group of volunteers helping the military in the fight against Boko Haram terrorists in the zone.

The Director of Army Public Relations, Col. Sani Usman, said the recovered items included three sealed boxes of 7.62mm (NATO) ammunition, three jerry cans containing various calibres of ammunition, two sacks containing 5,998 rounds of 7.62mm (NATO) ammunition, and 1, 760 rounds of 5.56mm SS109 calibre of ammunitions. Also recovered were five empty magazines of AK-47 rifle and a magazine of Fabrique Nationale rifle.

The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, said the reduced rate of piracy was the direct result of the naval operation targeted at criminal gangs operating on the country’s waters and in the Niger Delta communities. Ibas disclosed this yesterday at Mogadishu Barracks, Abuja, during the Third Quarter Route March for naval personnel, where he was represented by the Chief of Training and Operation of the Navy, Rear Admiral Adeyinka Osinowo.

Fielding questions from journalists after the walk, Osinowo said Operation Tsera Teku, which was launched on April 15 at the height of piracy activities in the maritime areas, had been a huge success.
He said, “We have sharpened our skills as well as operational concepts. You are probably aware that we have derived a new concept, two-point management control. We have a dedicated anti-piracy operation also in the past two months.

“And all these have to a reasonable extent decimated the undesirable spate of attacks that we noticed in the early part of this year, and we have limited attacks within the onshore and, of course, attack on the oil and gas infrastructure offshore.”

Osinowo also acknow-ledged the efforts of the other security agencies in what he called a significant progress in the protection of the country’s oil and gas facilities located within the onshore and offshore areas of the Niger Delta. “What you have seen is the result of a number of concerted efforts, ranging from the strategic level to the tactical level involving our boys and gunboats in the creeks as well as offshore,” he stated, emphasising, “We have significant cooperation from all the cooperating agencies.”

On the route march, he said the exercise was one of the key operational requirements designed to test the physical fitness of personnel of the service.

Investigation by THISDAY revealed that there were 34 recorded cases of attacks on the country’s waters between January and May, resulting in the deaths of more than 15 persons. However, the number reduced considerably between June and August, in the wake of the navy’s anti-piracy battle, with only two attacks recorded in June and only one case in July. August witnessed three attacks.
The waterways of Bayelsa and Rivers states have seen many attacks on passenger boats in recent months. In January, 30 people were kidnapped in two incidents that occurred on January 15 and January 18. Last year, a number of passengers were kidnapped or killed in several incidents that occurred in December.

Ibas had on April 15 launched Operation Tsare Teku in response to an upsurge in piracy and other criminal activities in the Niger Delta. He set up a Task Force Committee, headed by a Commodore, to lead the operation aimed at ridding the country’s territorial waters of criminals.

The launch of that operation came barely 48 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari issued a strong warning to pirates and other criminals in the riverine areas of the Niger Delta to desist from their nefarious acts or face the full weight of the law. The president vowed to deal decisively with criminals in the region the same manner the Boko Haram terrorists were been dealt with.

Ibas disclosed that seven Nigerian Naval Ships would be involved in the operation, namely, NNS Okpabana, NNS Kyanwa, NNS Sagbama, NNS Andoni, NNS Centenary, NNS Burutu, and NNS Zaria. He said the country’s economy was feeling the bite of piracy and related criminal activities in the maritime areas. He stated, “As you are all aware, the jugular of the Nigeria economy is at the maritime area of Niger Delta. So when we noticed an infringement in that area, it affects the economy of the nation.”