Navy denies harassment, intimidation in Niger Delta operations

By Fegor Oghene, Asaba 

The Nigerian Navy High Command has described as untrue, allegations that its personnel have continued to engage in harassment and victimisation of members of Ijaw communities in Delta state. 

Reacting to criticism of members of the public to activities of soldiers deployed to curb violent activities in the Niger Delta region, the Naval command described them as fabrications and propaganda. 

Speaking on behalf of the service was the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) the Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral Mohammed Garba, who said not less than 12 suspects had been arrested in various operations in recent times, 5 of whom were arrested in connection with insurgent activities. 

Garba, who had the Commander of the NNS Delta, Commodore Raimi Mohammed and the Base Operations Officer of the base, Commander Shehu Tasiu, in his company, said the ongoing operations in some Niger Delta states was being carried out by the combined units of the Nigerian armed forces, saying the air force, navy and the army are synergising in the current operations. 

“The reports that the military personnel on patrols in the creeks and that they have been harassing the communities, I will tell you that it is not true. You know that most people who are criminals, enemies of the state, will always want to use propaganda and sometimes using the press, but I am happy that you are trying to verify this from us. 

“These people that were arrested were arrested in connection with the explosion of the pipeline at Batan and that Investigations are still ongoing, profiling the names before we can now make it public. Once Investigations have been completed, we assure you that we will make it public for you to know the result of the investigation. 

“It is suffice to say that, with the ongoing arrests by the command the enemy of the state would be deterred. Despite the command’s operations against sea robbery, Niger Delta Avengers and other criminals, the Central Naval Command, is still very much engaged in its fight against crude oil theft and other illegal oil activities. 

“It is pertinent to state that in this effort, the last 7 days have witnessed the arrest of 5 suspects in connection with attacks on pipelines, one for the killing of 2 soldiers on 10 May, 2016, at Batan, one for extortion, 7 Cotonou boats, 5 other suspects and 490 MT of illegally refined AGO. I will like to assure the peace loving people within the Central Naval Command that the command will continue to protect lives and properties, and at the same time ensure the freedom of the seas for economic activities to thrive. 

“All these that you are seeing  is for us to make sure that we achieve the mandate of the Nigerian Armed Forces, as enshrined in the Constitution”, Garba said.

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