Sylvester Idowu in Warri
The Nigerian Navy yesterday disclosed that it had increased its surveillance in the country’s maritime domain with the refurbishing of its old vessels and the acquisition of new ones, which would end the rate of oil theft and pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta.
The naval force warned naval personnel not to engage in any form of partisan politics, noting that the statutory duty of the Nigerian Navy was to assist civil authority to ensure that the election was free and fair.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas made the remarks at the inauguration of the newly remodelled headquarters of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS), Warri, Delta State.
Ibas, who was represented by the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Western Naval Command, Rear Adm. Saidu Garba, noted that it would be able to reduce, if not end, the rate of oil theft and pipeline vandalism, particularly in the Niger Delta.
With its new plan, the naval chief said the Nigerian Navy had increased its surveillance in the country’s internal and territorial waters with the refurbishing of its old vessels and the acquisition of new ones.
He said, “Our patrols in the water have been reinvigorated. We have almost permanent presence in the sea. This means we have not left any room for the thieves and see pirates to operate.
“Obviously with our presence, they will now have to look for other means to operate. The saying is that control is patrol and patrol is control. So we will ensure that our persistence patrol will enable us to control the maritime domain.”
Besides maritime surveillance, Ibas warned naval personnel against involvement in partisan politics, saying as a statutory responsibility, the military men “must not be involved in any form of politicking. We shall not favour any person or go along with anybody in politics.
“Our second statutory responsibility is to ensure that when called upon we give sufficient security to our INEC officials that will be going into the waters. Obviously, they must require security. Our presence there will enable them deliver their electoral materials as required.”
Ibas warned anybody, especially the youths, not to seek for the assistance of any of its personnel before, during or after the elections, noting that the Nigerian Navy would not hesitate to arrest such persons.
He urged the youths “not to come close to any of our personnel requiring any form of political assistance. Any person that comes to us requiring any form of political assistance, we are going to arrest him because it is against our regulations.
“They should ensure that they go about their democratic rights to vote without any form of violence. We will be called upon to assist any civil authority in ensuring that law and order is maintained during the election period.”
Also speaking at the inauguration, the FOC said the purpose of the on-going renovation exercise in all naval commands, was to ensure that personnel in the entire Nigerian Navy had a conducive environment to operate.