The Minister of Defence, retired Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi , said no fewer than 492 vessels had been arrested by the Armed Forces of Nigeria from 2015 till date.
Magashi disclosed this on Monday at the 25th edition of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration scorecard and ministerial briefing.
He explained that through the numerous operations conducted, the AFN successfully detected and arrested several vessels operating illegally within Nigeria’s territory and waterways.
The minister added that significantly, MT Heroic IDUN, a crude oil vessel that attempted to sail out of Nigeria after illegally loading crude oil from the Total Akp Oil Field, deep offshore in Bonny was arrested.
He also said that the armed forces also arrested MV CHAYANEE NAREE, adding that the ship was laden with 32.9kg of cocaine, which was valued at N6.5 billion.
“Similarly, MV KATERIA was arrested within the Nigerian waterways. The ship was loaded with 13.65kg of cocaine valued at N4 billion”, he added.
Magashi said from the total of 492 vessels arrested within the period under review, 139 had been handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Speaking further on the arrests, he added that, “52 were handed over to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), while two vessels were handed over to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
“30 vessels were handed to the Department of Fisheries, notably, 143 of the arrested vessels are still in the custody of the Armed Forces, while 83 have been released to the owners on completion of investigation or trial,” Magashi added.
He said that at the inception of the present administration, the nation was at an all-low in terms of overall security throughout the regions.
“Additionally pipeline vandalism, and crude oil theft were problems in the Niger Delta region.
“However through visionary and competent leadership of the administration, the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces were among other things weakened by the insurgency, strengthened internal security and curtailed crude oil theft”, he said.
Magashi said that the increased deployment of Nigerian Navy (NN) platforms to maintain a round- the- clock presence at sea had yielded tremendous results.
The minister said:”More importantly, the NN partners with Private Maritime Security Logistics Company (PMSLCs) to further improve its presence at sea.
”This is particularly done through the deployment of NN personnel on these security vessels, which often are deployed to protect critical offshore assets.
“These partnerships have over time produced a multiplier effect in the deterrence of illegal activities by non-state actors within the maritime environment.”
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