The Central Naval Command of the Nigerian Navy, with headquarters in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, has urged communities in the Niger Delta to support the Navy in its efforts to stamp out maritime crimes in the region.
The Flag Officer Commanding, CNC, Rear Admiral Abubakar Al-Hassan, made the appeal on Tuesday during a free medical mission to Isoni community in Sagbama Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
Al-Hassan said the primary constitutional role of the Navy was to maintain maritime safety and integrity, including the fight against oil theft and other criminal activities.
He called on the people to help the Navy with intelligence information to enable the military outfit to bust oil thieves, sea pirates and kidnappers in order to make the waterways free for the users.
He noted that the cases of pipeline vandalism and illegal oil bunkering had reduced drastically following routine patrols of the creeks by operatives of the Nigerian Navy in collaboration with other security agencies.
The FOC said he and his team were in the community to render medical assistance to the needy and the less-privileged in line with the corporate social responsibility of the Nigerian Navy to its host communities.
He said the medical rhapsody was to foster cooperation between the Navy and the host communities, especially the rural dwellers that don’t have access to medical services.
In his remarks, the immediate past Chairman of Bayelsa State Traditional Rulers Council, King Joshua Igbagara, appealed to the Nigerian Navy to impose a curfew from 7:00pm to 6:00am to check the incidence of kidnappings on the state’s waterways.
Igbagara lamented that the act of kidnapping on the waterways had reached a worrisome level, especially when travelling from Southern Ijaw LGA en route to the Sagbama area of the state.
According to the traditional ruler, the rampaging kidnappers usually carried out the heinous act mostly at nights, reasoning that if water movements were restricted from 7:00pm to 6:00am, kidnapping would be reduced to its barest minimum.
He commended the Nigerian Navy for choosing his community for the free medical rhapsody, promising to work with the security agencies by urging his subjects to volunteer useful information to help fight crimes in the area.
But responding to the imposition of curfew on the state’s waterways, Al-Hassan said the command would look into the monarch’s request holistically.
He, however, added that the state government would be involved before taking a necessary action on the matter to avoid infringing on human rights of the people.