The Nigerian Navy on Tuesday said it would deploy more men and resources for surveillance of the riverine areas to tackle the rising cases of kidnapping there.
The new Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Western Naval Command (WNC), Rear Adm. Sylvanus Abba, said this after taking over the command from his predecessor, Rear Adm. Ferguson Bobai.
Abba said that the trend of kidnapping students in schools near riverine areas adopted by dislodged militants would not be tolerated any longer.
“Kidnappers are not ghosts and they live within the society,” he said.
The FOC also said the command would ensure that oil thieves would also no longer find a ready market within Lagos area by blocking all their gateways.
“Navy’s job is a constitutional responsibility that must be carried out.
“We have sworn to defend this nation and we have no option than to carry out the mandate.
“The people of Nigeria expect that much from us.
“There are new dimensions to kidnapping. The criminals now target school children and so, we must focus attention around riverine areas.
“Kidnappers are not spirits. They leave among us. If you see an unemployed person building mansion, tell security agencies so that he can be investigated.
“Can we say we do not know criminals? The media should help us so that we can carry out out this mandate.
“Those who do illegal bunkering and oil theft market their products in Lagos. If we block that route, the business will die.
“But if we don’t, it will continue to thrive,” the FOC said
While soliciting for the corporation of officers and men of the command, Abba urged them to be alive to their duties.
Bobai, while giving account of his stewardship at the WNC, said the mandate of `Operation AWATSE’ when he took over last April was to flush out militants.
“We started cleaning up from Ijedodo toward Mosomi, along the 72km pipeline.
“That was really our mandate from the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS).
“Fortunately, at that time, the NNPC pipeline was undergoing maintenance and not receiving products.
“We were able to douse the tension of pipeline vandals.
“Because there was no business for the vandals, most of them started to look for other things to do and we began to see the ugly faces of kidnapping in the general area.
“We had to write to the CDS who reviewed our mandate to capture kidnapping also.
“That is what we have been doing in aid of the police. We have tried to ensure these kidnappings within Lagos and Ogun are mitigated.
“It is a thing of joy that we were able to contain the issue of vandalism and right now, ships pump in products from Atlas Cove to Mosimi,” he said.
Bobai said that although some modest achievements were recorded under his watch, there was room for improvement.
He said that the navy had repositioned ships in a manner to tackle maritime challenges.
“We are making progress in fleet renewal that would help us to have more ships at sea.
“Every personnel must redouble efforts to fill the gaps at all times to meet existing challenges.
“Everybody must do his work according to duty specifications to avoid creating unnecessary vacuum,” the former FOC said.