21 January 2016, Abuja –- Following last weekend bombing of several gas and oil supply pipelines by militants in Delta State, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ekwe Ibas said yesterday that such attacks would be treated as terrorist attack by the Nigerian Navy rather than mere pipeline vandalism.
Describing the incidents as unfortunate, the CNS who spoke during a lecture he delivered to Course 24 participants at the National Defence College titled Nigerian Navy: Challenges and Future Perspectives’ noted that the Navy was not taking the sabotage it lightly, because the act was capable of undermining the Navy’s recent push in sanitizing the nation’s maritime sector.
His words, “The incident that just happened recently is rather unfortunate and of course that cannot be taken lightly by any serious nation and of course the Nigerian Navy is not going to take it lightly as well.
“We have made it clear that it goes beyond just mere vandalism for the purpose of making any gains; this is absolute sabotage, something that can even be termed terrorism.
“If the guys were doing that to derive benefit from the destruction then one will say it is vandalism but that is not the case”.
Admiral Ibas also advocated the establishment of special courts to address the menace of maritime crimes even as he explained that conventional courts had failed to arrest the situation.
Emphasizing that in the past, many of the suspects arrested by the Navy had oftentimes exploited lapses in the nation’s judicial system to evade prosecution, the CNS said, “Over 163 suspects were arrested by the Navy for various crimes and handed over for prosecution by relevant law enforcement agencies between Jan. and Dec. 2015.
“Experience has shown that suspects explore lapses in our judicial system to evade prosecution. We believe that the establishment of a special court or tribunal that is mandated to address all the outstanding cases with respect to the seizures and arrests made by the Navy will reduce the incidences of the illegality in the maritime sector”.
Speaking further, the CNS noted that his administration was working on enhancing the operational capacity of the Nigerian navy in line with his vision and the content of the Navy’s transformation plan.
While noting that the response capability of the Nigerian Navy was being enhanced by the acquisition of more vessels such as logistics ships, patrol boats among others, Ibas identified inadequate funding, poor industrial base, inadequate barracks accommodation for personnel and contemporary threats to maritime security as some of challenges militating against the actualization of the Navy’s broad objectives.
Earlier, the Director General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Mr Mike Omeri blamed the poor funding of strategic communication and intelligence operations for the lapses experienced in the counter-insurgency operation under the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Delivering his own paper titled “Strategic Communication in National Security’ Omeri acknowledged that the communication and intelligence aspect of the fight against Boko Haram under the Jonathan administration had some shortcomings.
His words, “To a large extent, at the onset of the fight, the absence of a clear national communication strategy also played a crucial role in the lapses experienced. Nothing is wrong for a country to sit down with its expert to define and design what its communication strategy should.
“The failure of strategic communication which also supports intelligence, impacted negatively on the country’s fight against the terrorists”.
According to him, “from the top, our leaders in the services went on air and gave out information that should not have been given which indirectly affected the operations.
He urged the Federal Government in collaboration with the military hierarchy to adopt a strategy that was not only proactive but consistent and coordinated.
*Kingsley Omonobi – Vanguard