Over 70 arrested as Nigerian Navy recovers 174,650 litres of PMS in South West

The Western Naval Command of the Nigerian Navy (NN) arrested 74 persons for drug trafficking, pipeline vandalism, and sea robbery in the South West in 2021.

The command also recovered 178,650 litres of stolen Premium Motor Spirit, 29 vehicles and other equipment valued at over N500 million.

Outgone Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Rear Admiral Jason Gbassa, made this known on Tuesday in Lagos.

Gbassa, who spoke on the achievements of the command in 2021, during his farewell parade at the NNS Beecroft parade ground, said several high-profile vessels and persons involved in drug trafficking were arrested during the period under review.

Those arrested, Gbassa said, included “MV CHAYENEE NAREE and MT KARTERIA” conveying cocaine from Brazil to Nigeria.

He said the arrest effectively disrupted the international illegal trade on the route.

“The Western Naval Command under my watch, initiated a series of operations to combat the menace of piracy, illegal oil bunkering, drug trafficking and other related crimes within the command’s area of responsibility.

“We conducted EX OMI MIMO (CLEAR WATER) to enhance the security of the command’s maritime domain, EX OLUSO, a harbour defence exercise aimed at working up the ships and operation OKUN ALAFIA to consolidate the gains of enhanced security in the Nations Maritime Environment and maintain credible presence at sea with over 7,000 hours of patrols, among others.

“Cumulatively, these efforts resulted in the command recording the lowest number of incidences of pirate attacks and sea robbery in the last 28 years and by extension, the Nigerian Maritime Domain and the Gulf of Guinea in general as attested to by the International Maritime Bureau Report of 2021.

“It is heartwarming that Op AWATSE conducted a total of 1,126 patrols leading to the arrest of 74 persons, recovery of 178,650 litres of stolen Premium Motor Spirit which were decanted to NNPC storage facility and 29 vehicles and other equipment valued at over N500 million. Majority of the seized vehicles have been handed over to the NSCDC in line with the Standard Operating Procedure, for prosecution. It is pertinent to state that these efforts ensured unhindered flow of petroleum products on the System 2B pipeline and availability of products to the populace,” he said.

Responding, the new FOC West, Rear Admiral Wambai, commended his predecessor for the sterling achievements recorded during his time and  assured that with the same assistance from officers and men of the command, he would either surpass or sustain the bar raised by his predecessor.

Wambai, who described Gbasa as a course mate and friend, said Lagos state was not a new terrain to him, as he had worked in different capacities in the state.

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