…As Customs says FOU Kaduna impounds N68m contraband goods***
The Nigerian Navy on Monday indicated that Nigeria lost no fewer than 277, 040 barrels of crude oil to illegal refining in 2018.
Similarly, about 23.1 million litres of Automated Gas Oil (AGO) or diesel, 212, 610 litres of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and 1.2 million litres of Domestic Producing Kerosene (DPK) were also lost.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, who confirmed this on Monday in Abuja, while briefing newsmen on the Navy’s scorecard in 2018 also said the navy through its “Operation Tsare Teku” recorded a total of 34 pirates’ attacks and 20 sea robberies during the period.
The “Operation River Sweep”, an anti-smuggling arm of the Nigeria Navy however, successfully destroyed no fewer than 637 illegal refineries in Niger Delta in 2018, the NN equally indicated, in addition to arresting 104 speed boats and 340 suspects in connection with illegal bunkering or smuggling during same period.
Represented by Rear Admiral Belgory Ibe-Enwo, Chief of Policy and Plans, Naval Headquarters, Abuja, Ibas gave an account of operations which involved air surveillance, insertion of Special Forces by gunboats, pulling down of located illegal refining sites with the use of swamp buggies and arrest/destruction of boats and barges found in such locations.
The CNS said that the quantity of crude oil lost to illegal oil refining activities during the period could not be less than 277, 040 barrels.
“A total of 34 pirates’ attacks on ships were reported, with nine successful and 25 unsuccessful.
“Furthermore, a total of 20 sea robbery attacks were reported in 2018, with six successful and 14 unsuccessful.
“Additionally, a total of 46 vessels and barges were arrested for involvement in maritime crimes during the period,” Ibas said.
On maritime domain awareness, he said that the navy carried out round-the-clock surveillance of Nigeria’s maritime space, using the Regional Awareness Capability (RMAC) and Falcon Eye facilities.
The navy chief said that in addition to the use of vessels and helicopters, the force had 24 Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) centres located across the Nigerian coastlines.
“These centres ensure effective surveillance of all vessels in our territorial waters were fitted with Automatic Identification System (AIS) or not,” he said.
He explained that using the MDA facilities and prompt reporting of attacks of vessels at sea led to foiling of several piracy incidents.
Ibas said that with arrest of 46 vessels in 2018 by the navy, “it is envisaged that the MDA facilities will help to present a complete, clear, detailed and updated maritime situation of Nigeria’s maritime domain’’.
He added that “by extension, the Gulf of Guinea will be involved when the whole proposed sites are completed’’.
On enhancement of response capability, Ibas said that the capability of the navy was being enhanced through acquisition of more platforms.
“Notwithstanding these acquisitions, there is need to increase NN’s operational capability by acquiring more vessels in order to enable it respond more effectively to contemporary and future threats.”
He said that the navy remained committed towards improving security around the nation’s maritime area, “with the notable achievements recorded so far’’.
Meanwhile, the Federal Operations Unit (FOU) Zone ‘B’, an anti-smuggling arm of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) in Kaduna has seized goods with Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N68.3 million in the first 41 days of the year.
The FOU Zone ‘B’ in Kaduna oversees Kaduna/Katsina, Kano/Jigawa, Sokoto/Kebbi/Zamfara, Niger/Kwara/Kogi states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) commands.
The Comptroller in Charge of the zone, Mustafa Sarkin-Kebbi who confirmed this in Kaduna on Monday, noted that the seizures were made between January 1 and February 10.
Providing a breakdown, he listed the items to include 1,412 bags of parboiled rice, 40 vehicles, including those used to convey the seized goods, and 65 cartons of spaghetti.
Other seized items are 111 Jerry cans of vegetable oil, 46 bales of second hand clothes, 333 pieces of used tyres and other sundry items.
The FOU comptroller promised to be proactive in the discharge of his duties and warned against all forms of smuggling, saying that the command has zero tolerance to smuggling in any form.
“We will not relent in impounding all of such smuggled goods and ensure those involved are brought to book accordingly”, the Comptroller stated, warning smugglers to avoid his jurisdiction.