The Nigerian Navy has advocated the establishment of special court to try maritime offenders in the country.
The Chief of Naval Staff, (CNS) Vice Adm. Ibok-Ete Ibas, made the call at a news conference held at the close of the three-day Global Maritime Conference last Wednesday in Abuja.
The conference is part of effort to accelerate adjudication of justice on maritime offenders and curb sea crimes in the maritime industry.
Ibas, who was represented by Chief of Policy and Plans Naval Headquarters, Rear Adm. Begroy Ibe-Enwo, said that the Maritime Domain Awareness has improved security in the nation’s maritime environment.
He suggested that certain courts in the country should be designated as maritime court to handle maritime cases.
On patrol efforts, the CNS said: “two ships are going to join us soon from the fishery department and will be dedicated for anti-fishery operations.”
“ For the patrol efforts, we have a trinity of actions, we are reinforcing by the day, The first leg of that action is surveillance.
“ The sea out there is a wide expanse of water, before we began to improve on our maritime domain awareness, it requires ships and maybe helicopters to sail out to sea to use their radar to see what is going on there.
“ But right now, in Abuja, Lagos, Calabar and other centres, we are able to see what’s going out there.
“But after seeing what we can see, the next is to deploy ships and helicopters to arrest and intercept these suspects.
“ That is one area we are still building on because we don’t have enough ships to dominate the entire waters that we need to police.
“ It is a work in progress, more ships are being bought by the government
“ With some other levels of collaborations even the fishery department is coming on board fully,” he said.
He noted that in Ghana, fishery department and their Navy collaborate very firmly on this to the extent that the fishery department also buys ships and vessels for the Navy to use.
According to him, that’s the model we are also adopting, two ships are going to join us soon from the fishery department and will be dedicated for anti-fishery.
“ The third leg is enforcement, which revolves around the legal regime. Fortunately, the piracy and suppression of criminal activities act is on.
“ It is already a deterrence by itself by the main fact that the criminals or would-be criminals know that there is a legislation that will bring them to book, that is already a check.
“ But those who still want to be die-hard, the law is out there to catch up with them.
“ It is not a new thing when we say to establish maritime courts rather we have recaptured to express it as the designation of certain courts within the country.
“ It will not require any parliamentary legislation; It is just for the Attorney -General and executive arm.
“ It can be executed so that certain courts can be designated for maritime offences, so that these cases can be expeditiously executed,” he said.
Navy Nabs Six Rice Smugglers In A’Ibom
The Nigerian Navy Command has arrested six suspected rice smugglers in Akwa Ibom State.
The Navy Forward Operating Base (FOB) also impounded 1,439 bags of smuggled rice between December 2019 and January 2020.
This was made known by the Commanding Officer, Forward Operating Base, in Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Peter Yilme, in a statement last Wednesday.
Yilme said the suspects and the items impounded had been handed over to the Nigeria Customs Service in Mbo Local Government Area of the State.
The commanding officer, however, said some of the suspects escaped on sighting the Navy gunboats.
He said the command would remain steadfast in fighting illegalities on the waterways in line with the directives of the Chief of Naval Staff, Ibok Ibas.
Yilme said the arrests were made along the Unyenge, Effiat, and Mendoro creeks between December 2019 and January by Navy officers and men on routine patrol in their gunboats.
“I handed over 1,439 bags of rice and six suspects to the Superintendent of Customs, Garuba Hassan, in line with the directives of the Chief of Naval Staff.
“We are committed to rid the waterways of all forms of illegalities.
“I commend the untiring efforts of the officers and ratings in ensuring the mandate and tasks of the Base are achieved.
“I also appreciate the immense efforts of the Chief of Naval Staff, for providing the necessary platform and logistics support for the Base to carry out its operations,” Yilme said.
Confessing to the crime, a suspect from Bayelsa, Wede John, said that he usually transported fish and was carrying rice for the first time when he was arrested.
“I don’t know the owner of the rice and didn’t know that rice was loaded into the boat. This is my first time of carrying rice.
“I usually transport crayfish and dry fish to Oron Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom. I was carrying rice from Bakassi to Unyenge when I was arrested,” he said.
Also speaking, a suspect and boat driver, Awagoyi Philip, said the owner of the rice promised to pay him N20,000 for carrying the rice but that he was yet to collect the money.
“I drive boats and I was paid to drive the boat that carried the rice. This is my first time. The owner of the rice promised to pay me N 20,000 and is aware that I have been arrested”, he said.
Reps Plan Security Summits On Ports
The House of Representatives Committee on Ports and Harbours says it will soon organise a nationwide security summit to tackle acts of insecurity in the nation’s ports.
The committee also decried the spate of piracy in the nation’s waterways and abduction of crew members of vessels coming to Eastern ports.
Chairman, House of Reps Committee on Ports and Harbours, Hon Datti Garba Muhammad, disclosed this to The Tide during an interview in Port Harcourt shortly after a visit to the Rivers Port Complex.
Muhammad said the summit would focus on the best possible ways to tackle insecurity in the nation’s waterways and reduce abduction of crew members in the ports.
Although the chairman did not say when the summit would take place, he condemned the act of piracy in the industry, saying the act had scared away some foreign investors, vessel owners and lowered the revenue accrued to the Federal Government.
He insisted that the committee wanted the Rivers Port Complex to revamp for more maritime activities and attract investors to the sector.
The chairman commended the management of the port, saying the port is now safer to do business as the issue of pirate attacks on vessels is now a thing of the past in the complex.
According to him, the safety and the working environment in the port complex will generate more revenue to the government.
“Rivers Port is safer for investors to patronise; no reports of attacks on sea vessels going to the complex for over six months now”, he said.
Describing Rivers Port Complex as à colonial port, Muhammad said the committee would want the complex to be competitive, attract investors and yield more revenue to the government.
Stories by Chinedu Wosu
Piracy: Seafarer Wants FG To Equip Navy, Marine Police
A Port Harcourt based seafarer, Onmonya Udeh, has appealed to the Federal Government to equip the Nigerian Navy and the Marine Police to tackle piracy in the nation’s waterways.
Udeh lamented that pirates were armed with more sophisticated weapons than the Navy and the Marine police, thereby posing serious threats to the lives of mariners and passengers.
Udeh spoke to The Tide yesterday in Port Harcourt during a telephone interview on issues bothering maritime industry.
The mariner said over 121 crew members were kidnapped in 2019 across the Gulf of Guinea by suspected sea pirates.
He called on the Navy and Marine Police to ensure regular patrol of the creeks, channels and all the waterways in the region to protect lives and property.
The seafarer appealed to the government to equip Navy with adequate gunpower to confront the sea robbers that are posing threats to the creeks and waterways in the region.
He said marine companies were scared to operate in the region due to the negative attitude of the criminals who terrorized the waterways.
Udeh said the attack and abduction of vessel owners and marine companies had created unemployment and even forced companies to relocate to a safer environments such as Lagos and neighbouring countries.
The mariner admonished the youth to shun acts inimical to the socio-economic growth of the region, but embrace positive life style that would encourage industrialization.
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