The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, has said that within the last six months, over 500 illegal refineries operating at various locations in the creeks of the Niger Delta region have been shut down by the Nigerian Navy (NN).
Ibas stated this yesterday in Abuja shortly after a closed-door meeting with the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hajiya Hadiza Bala Usman, who came on a courtesy visit.
The Naval chief, who lauded his men for their commitment to security and safety of the Nigerian maritime domain, said the shut down of the refineries was more than what was recorded in the past two years.
He said: “What is happening is that once you focus on the activities of pirates and other criminals in the maritime sector, you see them run away and begin to struggle for survival in other areas. To some extent, we have been able to curtail them and their nefarious activities in the maritime sector.
“In the past six months, we have been able to shut down about 500 illegal refineries and this is more than what had been achieved in the past two years.”
He said the Navy remains a critical partner with the NPA and would continue to seek the support of the Authority to enable it deliver on its mandate, adding that the Navy would want the issue of Warri and Calabar Channels addressed as they are critical to the operations of its personnel.
“We are concern about issues of safety and security, particularly in major waterways. The Warri and Calabar Channels need urgent attention, our operations suffer when we cannot use these channels as expected.
“We also expect that the Safe Transit Corridor (STC) initiative would address some of these areas so that critical vessels can be escorted to safety in the Nigerian maritime domain. To curtail the menace of sea pirates and robbers, we have set up a task force to focus attention in those areas identified as flash-points for pirates’ attacks and sea robbery’” he stressed.
Usman said the visit to the Naval headquarters was part of NPA’s interaction with stakeholders aimed at strengthening the mode of operations and collaborations between the two agencies.
She said besides the issues of premises and property that joined the NPA and the Nigerian Navy together, the NPA also planned to develop a Forward Operating Base (FOB) for the Navy.
The NPA boss stated that layers of collaboration had been spelt out regarding maritime safety and security and other issues that would improve business activities and other operations at the nation’s ports.