Vandalism, Piracy: Navy Launches Massive Operation to Secure N/Delta, Maritime Sector.

    Vandalism, Piracy: Navy Launches Massive Operation to Secure N/Delta, Maritime Sector.

    Following the upsurge in piracy and other criminal activities in the Niger Delta region of the country, the Nigerian at the weekend launched a massive operation to ensure effective security of the maritime sectors of the nation.

    Codenamed ‘Operation Tsare Teku’, the operation is coming 48 hours after President Muhammadu Buhari, issued a strong warning to deal decisively with the trouble makers in the region in the same manner with Boko Haram terrorists.

    Making the disclosure at a media briefing in Abuja, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe, said that he has set up a Task Force Committee, headed by a Commodore, to handle the operation aimed at clearing the nation’s territorial waters of criminals.

    Ibas who was represented by the Chief of Training and Operations (CTOP), Nigerian Navy (NN), Rear Adm. Henry Babalola, disclosed that seven Nigerian Naval Ships (NNS) will be involved in the operations.

    He said that four has been deployed and they are: NNS Okpabana, NNS Kyanwa, NNS Sagbama, and NNS Andoni; while the remaining three naval ships would join the operation later on, including NNS Centenary, NNS Burutu, and NNS Zaria.

    The CNS said that the nation’s economy is feeling the bite of piracy and other related criminal activities in the maritime area, noting that no serious country would tolerate the sabotage of the vital sectors of its economy and vowed that the region would be cleared of all criminal activities.

    Babalola said, “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.

    “The CNS has inaugurated Operation Tsare Teku to clear the area of these miscreants. It is to be headed by a Senior Flag Officer in the rank of Commodore,” he said.

    Speaking further, Ibas observed that the criminal activities increased because some former Amnesty Programme (PAP) would soon wound up.

    Even though, the Naval Chief did not mention names, his description of the major suspect behind the criminal activities pointed towards the former Niger Delta war-lord, Government Tompolo, who has been declared wanted by the Federal Government.

    The CNS further vowed that the Navy has put measures in place to arrest the situation, having identified the two major hotspots in Brass and Bonny in Bayelsa and Rivers States respectively.

    “There is no nation in the world that will allow this to happen in its maritime domain. Its not as if the Navy has not been doing anything all this while to secure our maritime environment. This is because we have had more ships in the maritime area than any other time. However, since January 14, 2016 we have had increased pirates activities and ship hijacks” he said.

    “In every society we must have criminal activities. However, you must note that up until January 11, 2016, we have had zero criminal activities but from January 14, this changed. What must have happened to cause the increase in these security challenges afterwards?

    “Meanwhile, you are well aware that some persons were declared wanted (Tompolo) and they promised some actions. You know that it was no longer a business as usual and coupled with the facts that the Amnesty programmed is about rounding up. So these criminal elements might have gone back to their criminal activities.”

    “The major thing is that the criminal groups have regrouped. We have localized these problems at two major areas, offshore Brass and offshore Bonny. These are two major areas we have been having the challenges,” he added.

    The Naval Chief, while noting that President Buhari’s pronouncement is for a larger military operations, clarified that the current operation is a purely NN initiative in line with its Rules of Engagement and scope of activities.

    “This is not totally divorced from the matching orders the President gave but its part of our statutory role. The order from Mr. President is for the whole armed forces. It’s not the kind of blind response to the Presidential pronouncement as we are guarded by Rules of Engagement,” he clarified.

    Emphasizing that the Navy has been up to task in policing the coastal areas of the country’s collaboration with other neighbouring countries and international partners, Admiral Ibas said that the NN recorded one of the biggest naval success in the rescue of a Naval Ship Maximus, which was hijacked off the Ivoirian coast.

    “We have arrested the Pirates that hijacked the Maximus. We want to tell you that it was hijacked off the Coast of Cote D’Ivore and we were alerted by the US and pursued it towards the tail end of Sao Tome & Principe. It was a big success that some countries were amazed that we can pull off such feat,” he said.

    He added: “Even now, those countries that don’t want to cooperate before have realized that maritime problem is everybody’s problem and they are having a change of heart.

     

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