Daily Champion (Lagos)

21 June 2007

Nigeria: Navy Detains Officers Over Bunkering Ships

Lagos — Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral, Ganiyu Adekeye yesterday set up an investigative panel to look into the allegation of negligence by the Force personnel attached to the Nigeria Navy Operations Base, NNS Pathfinder, Port Harcourt where two illegal bunkering ships were intercepted.

Also, Adekeye has ordered the detention of the seven officers including the intelligence officer of NNS Pathfinder and others who were found wanting in securing the bunkering ships.

Daily Champion gathered that the ships were under the watch of the Naval personnel who were instructed to protect them.

The Board of Inquiry headed by Navy Captain Bimbo Ayuba, sitting in Port Harcourt, is to investigate circumstances surrounding the alleged arrest of the two ships on the 12th of June, loaded with crude oil by the Patrol Vessel, NNS Kyanwa, and the unauthorized movement of the ships out of the dock while it is still being investigated. The ships are MT. BALLE and MT ALRUHULA.

Military sources told Daily Champion that immediately after both ships were arrested, and the signal got to the Naval headquarters, the CNS immediately ordered the constitution of the BOI.

Other duties of the BOI include unraveling the owners of the ship, the circumstances surrounding the ships acquisition of the crude oil and facts surrounding its arrest and detention.

It is also to determine if any Naval officer or officers played any role or compromised in the unauthorized movement of the ship out of the harbour.

Daily Champion learnt that the BOI has one month to conclude its investigation and recommend sanctions, after which a military court martial would be set up to try officers found culpable.

Contacted on the issue, Director of Naval Information, Captain Obiora Medani confirmed the setting up of the BOI saying that because of the tough stand of the CNS against acts of indiscipline, their would be no hiding place for any officer found wanting in the matter.

His words, "There will be no cover up in this matter. The Naval headquarters has already taken necessary administrative measures to investigate this matter by setting up the board and its recommendation will be implemented to the letter."

It will be recalled that only a fortnight ago, the CNS warned officers and ratings of the Navy that personnel caught indulging in acts capable of embarrassing the force, including conniving with illegal bunkerers, would be tried and sanctioned in accordance with military laws. Adekeye had also in an address to officers and men of the Western Naval Command in Lagos last week, disclosed that the recent retirements of some senior officers in the force, was a fall out of their alleged involvment in bunkering offences.

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