The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, over the weekend, raised the alarm that the amount of importation of small arms and weapons into the country through the seaports is scary.
This is even as the Navy said that if the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) invites its officers during every importation of fertiliser making materials or explosives for mining sites, the amount of small arms or weapons proliferation won’t be this high.
Speaking during a courtesy visit to the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, over the weekend, the Naval Chief called for a return of the Navy back to the ports.
According to the Chief of Naval Staff, “Credible intelligence has it that since we left the ports about 1996, the proliferation of small arms and light weapons into our country is scary. But again, at every importation of fertilizer making materials or explosives for mining sites, the Navy had to be invited.
“If NPA invites us at every opportunity to come and inspect these consignments and also ensure that they get to the destinations they are meant for and they are not diverted, then why not have us at the ports so that when the containers come in, they are not broached in the ports and subsequently after the inspection, we make sure they get to the right destination.
“But it has not gained the necessary traction but I have written again to see that there is a need for that, especially with the establishment of the Office of the National Coordinator on Small Arms and Light Weapons by the Office of the National Security Adviser.”
The Naval Chief equally appreciated the long-standing support of the Minister, saying the launch of the Deep Blue project last year by President Muhammadu Buhari has impacted the Navy’s ability to improve maritime security operations in Nigeria’s territorial waters.
The chief of Naval Staff invited the Minister to visit the Naval Headquarters, Abuja and see the Nigerian Navy’s Falcon Eye System; a maritime surveillance facility that incorporates various sensors located along the nation’s enormous coastline, enabling it respond promptly to danger signals.
On his part, the Minister of Transportation called for the support of the Nigerian Navy to identify pipelines that may hamper the building of the Bonny Deep Seaport in Rivers State.
“There’s a place we have chosen to build the seaport, we want to make sure there are no pipes in that location and enroute that location by vessels. We will be glad if they can work with us to identify where the pipes are in Bonny so that we know where they are,” the Minister said.
The Minister also said the Ministry is prepared to work with the Nigerian Navy to achieve maritime security in the country and will be glad to assist if it is within the authority he presides over.
“If it’s something within my authority as the Minister, we proceed and approve. If it’s above the Minister, I will approach the President, so we can get the same approval,” he said.
Speaking further, Ameachi lauded the Nigerian Military for their selfless service, culminating in the safety of the citizenry and protection of the territorial integrity of the nation.
“I have very high regard for the Nigerian military, just because is a national service you are providing, it entails their lives; the sacrifice they make is what guides my relationship with the military and because of that I don’t disrespect any relationship,” the Minister said.