The Eastern Naval Command of the Nigerian Navy on Friday said the command deactivated 175 illegal refining sites and seized 27 vessels within 11 months.
The outgone Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Sanusi Ibrahim, stated this in Calabar, Cross River State, while handing over the leadership of the command to his successor, Rear Admiral Ibrahim Dewu.
Ibrahim said the vessels were arrested for engaging in illegal bunkering, crude-oil theft and other maritime illegalities, the CmaTrends Agency of Nigeria reports.
He said the achievements were made possible through the command’s sustained patrol of its area of responsibility as well as undertaking several clearance and swamp buggy operations in the backwaters.
He stated, “These operations resulted in a considerable reduction of piracy in Nigeria’s maritime domain, as well as led to the arrest of 27 vessels engaged in illegal bunkering, crude-oil theft and other maritime illegalities.
“Other achievements include: the deactivation of about 175 illegal refining sites, the evacuation of about 35,384,718 metric tonnes of illegally refined diesel and the destruction of several pirates as well as kidnappers’ hideouts.
“The command also conducted and took part in some independent, joint and combined exercises such as: Operation Bekan Mmon 2, Ex Kafa Iko, Ex Beni Kekere among others, in line with the strategic directives of the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Auwal Gambo.”
The former FOC said of particular interest in the breakthroughs was the seizure of MT Preyor 1 on January 5, 2022 reportedly transporting about 2,458,350 litres of crude oil in cargo tanks and additional 10,000 litres of diesel in service tanks without the requisite approval.
Ibrahim noted that there was also an ongoing “Operation River Dominance” initiated by the Nigeria Navy Ship Pathfinder in conjunction with the Rivers State Government.
He said the command also recorded huge successes which include the arrest of 13 suspects, 14-large wooden boats laden with illegally refined diesel and three barges, each carrying about one million litres of suspected stolen crude oil.
“This is in addition to the command’s anti-smuggling efforts which led to the seizure of no less than 3,147 bags of 50kg parboiled foreign rice and bags of fertilizer,” he added.
The new FOC, Dewu, urged the officers and men of the command to give him the necessary support and encouragement to move the command forward.