Rear Admiral Mohammed Abdullahi last Thursday, took over the mantle of leadership as the 23rd Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Western Naval Command (WNC).
Pledging to uphold the Nigerian Navy’s policing roles, he also said the navy’s constitutional role of defending the maritime territorial integrity will be discharged with utmost professionalism.
He made this pledge at the handing and taking over ceremony at WNC in Apapa, Lagos.
Rear Admiral Abdullahi, who was the immediate past Director of Communications in Naval Headquarters, appreciated the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla for the appointment as the FOC, assuring that he would do his best and redouble efforts.
He also assured officers and men that the mandate of the CNS would be accomplished, adding that “I believe in the core value of team work and professionalism and together I believe we will conquer.
“We will do well as a command to make sure that the navy’s constitutional role of defending the maritime territorial integrity, policing roles, are all discharged with utmost professionalism.
“ I want to thank the outgoing Flag Officer Commanding for doing well because he has achieved a lot of progress.
“For the rest of us I solicit for your support because it is our navy and I believe all of us will do it well because no man can do it alone”.
As he handed over to Abdullahi to assume the role of Chief of Policy and Plans, Naval Headquarters, the 22nd FOC of the WNC, Rear Admiral Joseph Daniel Akpan, was commended and recognised for his exceptional accomplishments within a remarkably short span of time.
One notable achievement under his leadership was the Presidential Fleet Review held from May 19th to May 22nd, 2023, which was hailed as the most outstanding ever conducted in the Nigerian Navy’s history.
In his efforts to strengthen bilateral relations, Rear Admiral Akpan facilitated the visit of esteemed foreign Naval vessels to the Nigerian Navy.
These visits fostered collaboration in areas such as training, joint operations, and potential research and development initiatives.
In his capacity as the Force Commander for Operation AWATSE, Rear Admiral Akpan played a crucial role alongside other security agencies in apprehending individuals involved in illegal activities. Notably, he was instrumental in the arrest of individuals aboard a wooden boat carrying Geepee tanks filled with crude oil siphoned from an oil wellhead in Ayetoro, Ilaje, Ondo State.
The Western Naval Command, under Rear Admiral Akpan’s leadership, successfully intercepted approximately 218 bags of suspected Cannabis Sativa that were unloaded from large wooden boats at Orimedu Beach, Ibeju Lekki, earlier this month.
In June, the command also dismantled an illicit refinery site located at Oke Siri waterside, Ondo State.
In addition, the command’s efforts resulted in the arrest of three notorious cultists and the seizure of over 3,000 bags of foreign rice along various beaches in Badagry, which were subsequently handed over to the Nigeria Customs Services.
Rear Admiral Akpan said: “On assumption of duty, our first task as a command was to conduct the Presidential Fleet Review from 19 – 22 May 2023. It is on record that the PFR, was adjudged the best that was ever conducted in the NN.
“In line with my command philosophy of getting the man ready for the job, mentally, physically and spiritually, by creating the right workplace atmosphere, we immediately we set out to address the challenges that our personnel face at work place and at the home front.
“Consequently, a talk was held on behavioural and attitudinal patterns, both at the parade ground here for NN personnel and at Navy Town Stadium for our families.
” The attendance, interest generated, and feedback indicated that the talk resonated with the participants as issues of stress, drug abuse, health and other welfare issues were discussed. We intended to make this talk more frequent.
“As the Premier Command, Western Naval Command has remained the gateway to the NN as most of the port calls by foreign navies are conducted within the Command’s Area of Responsibility.
“In May 2023 alone we had port visits by a Spanish Naval Ship BAM ODAZ, Italian Navy Ship BORSINI, Ghana Navy Ship BLIKA and French Navy Ship COMMANDANT BIROT, including the latest visit by the Chinese Escort Task Force 162 comprising Destroyer NANNING, Frigate SANYA and Logistics Ship WEISHANHU.
“We equally had visits from the Ethiopian Navy, emissaries from the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and other partners with the NN. This port visits have strengthen our bilateral relationship and collaboration with the visiting navies in the areas of training, operations and possible Research and Development.
“I am glad to announce to us that the visitors have met a ready Western Fleet and personnel to the effect that we were able to carry out fleet exercise with most of these navies. This has impacted positively to our efforts to secure the maritime environment for enhanced socio-economic activities.
“Gentlemen, as you are all aware, I doubled as the Force Commander for Operation AWATSE which is mandated to curb the incessant vandalism on NNPC System 2B pipeline from Atlas Cove in Lagos to the Depot in Ibadan.
“Though the task involves other agencies such as the NA, NAF, NSCDC and NPF, I am glad to report that the NN personnel taking part in the operations have remained professional with result to show for it.
“Within the period under review, the Command arrested a wooden boat laden with Geepee tanks filled with crude oil siphoned from an oil well head at Ayetoro, Ilaje Ondo State.
“Also, early this month, the Command was able to intercept about 218 bags of consignment suspected to be Cannabis Sativa offloaded from large wooden boats at Orimedu Beach, Ibeju Lekki.
In the month of June, the command destroyed an illegal refinery site at Oke Siri water side Ondo State. Added to this are the arrest of three notorious cultists, seizure of over 3,000 bags of foreign rice along several Badagry Beaches which was handed over to the Nigeria Customs Services.
“In achieving this feat, the command combined aggressive patrols by our boats and ships as well as combined surveillance efforts of the NN helicopters and Maritime Domain Awareness Facilities comprising the Falcon Eye and the RMAC.
“The sustained presence at sea and continuous surveillance make it difficult for perpetrators of criminalities such as piracy, robbery at sea, pipeline vandalism, crude oil theft to operate freely.
“As I conclude, let me seize this opportunity to our sister services, NPF, DSS, NCS, NDLEA and stakeholders in the Maritime Industry such as the Private Maritime Logistics Support Companies for their cooperation, collaboration and show of spirit-de-corps.
I also wish to thank the Comds of Western Fleet, NNS BEECROFT, NAB Ojo and NNS WEY, as well as the Comdts of NNSSs/NNPSs, including my staff at the HQ WNC for their support. You all made my job easy. Finally, I wish to thank the Chief of the Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ikechukwu Ogalla, Admiralty Medal for his support and for bringing onboard pragmatic leadership since his assumption of office.
“He has promised that no stone will be left unturned in providing the tools/equipment and preparing the NN personnel to render efficient service in support of the constitutional role of the NN. It is on this ground that I also extend the same charge to my successor, Rear Admiral Mohammed Abdullahi, an amiable senior officer who I have known and worked with for decades.
“I trust that he will even do more than we have achieved in the short stay. Please, this is an operations command, so make sure that unscrupulous elements in our maritime space feel the weight of the law and your dedication to duty.”