Navy Alerts Nigerians on Rising Cases of Stowaways Boarding Merchant Vessels

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Clamps down on oil thieves, illegal refineries, arrests four persons
Paul Obi in Abuja
The Nigerian Navy yesterday alerted Nigerians to be vigilant, given recent increase of stowaways boarding merchant vessels to commit any forms of maritime crimes.

The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, said the high number of stowaways in high sea has led to the rise of maritime security challenges in the nation’s territorial waters.

Ibas while warning Nigerians to remain security cautious, noted that “the increasing attempts by some desperate persons to board merchant vessels illegally as stowaways” has continued to fuel crime across the maritime sector.

The CNS “commended the efforts of the personnel in driving the process of clearing illegal refinery sites and mitigating other security threats in the maritime areas.”

Giving an insight on recent operations by the Navy in the Niger Delta, Director of Information, Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Christian Ezekobe, explained that “the Nigerian Navy has intensified the ongoing clampdown on illegal crude oil thieves, illegal refineries and other related crimes in the maritime areas. Between 19 – 24 December 2016, the NN recorded an impressive result in this regard.

“This is even as the vigilance of the service personnel helped to avert the departure of more than 47 stowaways who attempted to leave the country illegally onboard some merchant vessels.

“From the foregoing, the patrol team deployed by NNS DELTA arrested the Captain of a merchant Vessel, one Mr Solomon Perebo for his alleged involvement in pipeline vandalism,” Ezekobe added.

He stated that “under this period of time, 23 illegal refinery sites were raided by the Base’s patrol teams mainly in Obodo, Ajosolo, Isaba and Olakpashe creeks in Warri South West Local Government Area of Delta State.

“During the raid, about 396 metric-tonnes (MT) of suspected illegally refined diesel and about 1,060MT of suspected stolen crude oil were destroyed, thre suspects linked to the sites were also apprehended.
“In a related development, the patrol team deployed by NNS JUBILEE raided an illegal refinery site at Ibeno community in Ibeno Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.

“The raid which was conducted in conjunction with security partners resulted to the destruction of 2 cotonou boats, and six drums containing suspected illegally refined diesel.”

Ezekobe further observed that “operatives of NNS Pathfinder have intercepted a wooden barge conveying about 110MT of suspected illegally refined diesel around the Federal Ocean Terminal/Federal Lighter Terminal (FOT/FLT) anchorage in Onne, Rivers State.

“This feat is sequel to the interception of another barge laden with about 50MT of suspected illegally refined diesel around Ikpokiri in Onne, Rivers State.

“In view of this, the NN wishes to remind captains of merchant vessels and all seafarers to be vigilant and report any suspicious movement around their vessels in order to enhance the security of their vessels,” the Director maintained.