The Nigerian Navy on Monday disclosed that since the activation of ‘Operation River Sweep’, the special sea exercise aimed at curtailing noticeable activities of illegal oil refiners, particularly in Delta and Rivers States, a total of 637 illegal refining sites were destroyed in 2018 alone.
Recall that Operation River Sweep involves air surveillance, insertion of Special Forces by gunboats, pulling down of located illegal refining sites with the use of swamp buggies as well as arrest/destruction of boats and barges found in such locations.
Giving the scorecard of the Nigerian Navy for 2018, at the 1st quarter media dialogue at NHQ, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ette-Ibas represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Rear Admiral BEE Ibe-Enwo, supported by the Chief of Training and Operations, Rear Admiral Makanjuola Kadiri, noted that a total of 104 speed boats and 340 suspects were arrested for involvement in either COT/illegal bunkering or smuggling.
“Highlight of seizures and arrests shows that the quantity of oil lost as a result of illegal oil refining activities in 2018 is about 277, 040 barrels while about 23.1million litres of AGO, 212, 610 litres of PMS and 1.2million litres of DPK were also lost”.
Towards checkmating the criminal tendencies of oil thieves and illegal bunkerers, it was disclosed that the Nigerian Navy now carries out a round the clock surveillance of Nigeria’s maritime space using the Regional and Maritime Awareness Capability (RMAC) and Falcon Eye Facilities in addition to use of vessels and helicopters.
While noting that the Navy has 24 Maritime Domain Awareness Centres (MDAs) located across the nations coastline, the Navy said, “With the arrest of the 46 vessels and barges in 2018, it is envisaged that the MDA facilities would help to present a complete, clear, detailed and updated maritime situation of Nigeria’s maritime domain and by extension, the Gulf of Guinea when the whole proposed sites are completed.
On the establishment of Naval security stations to man identified choke points through which most attacks on sea going vessels and other operations occur, the CP Plans said, “It involves deployment of armed personnel in houseboats in strategic locations within the creeks supported by patrol boats. So far, 9 houseboats otherwise known as Naval Security Stations have been deployed where crude oil theft and illegal refining activities are known to be prevalent.
“Since the introduction of the Choke Point regime, several arrests and destruction of barges and other vessels used for conveying stolen crude oil and illegally refined products have been arrested.
“For instance, a total of 31 large wooden boats were arrested for involvement in illegalities in 2018 while 176 large wooden boats were destroyed within the same period.
On the gains of Operation Tsare Teku, a naval operation activated in 2016 to combat attacks on shipping and other illegal activities in its designated area, as well as protect offshore oil and gas installations, the Navy said, “As records indicate, from January to December 2018, a total of 34 pirates attacks on shipping were reported with 9 successful and 25 unsuccessful.
“Furthermore, a total of 20 sea robbery attacks were reported in 2018 with 6 successful and 14 unsuccessful adding that since the inception of operation Tsare Teku there has been drastic reduction in reported incidents of attacks with even fewer successful attacks.
Stating that, “A total of 46 vessels and barges were arrested for involvement in maritime crimes during the period, the CNS said, “These are indications that the operation has contributed to a significant improved in security of shipping in Nigeria’s maritime environment. The Navy is in the process of rounding up Operation Tsare Teku V and plans are underway to flag off Operation Tsare Teku VI”.
Speaking on recruitment in the Navy, the Naval Secretary, Rear Admiral Funebi Ogu disclosed that a total of 110, 000 applications have so far been received from Nigerians wishing to join the force out of which a little over 1,000 recruits will be shortlisted.
He warned applicants to note that application which is done online, is free hence no applicant should be deceived into paying money to anybody to fraudsters.