20 March 2012 , Sweetcrude, Yenagoa-The Nigerian Navy yesterday warned crude oil thieves and sea pirates terrorizing the creeks of the Niger Delta to have a rethink or have themselves to blame.
The Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) the newly established Central Naval Command located in Bayelsa State, Rear Admiral Johnson Omoniyi Olutoyin, handed down the warning when he paid a courtesy visit on the state governor, Seriake Dickson in Yenagoa.
He said with the establishment of the central naval command in the state which is the heart of the Niger Delta a more robust operational arrangements and logistics have been put in place to tackle headlong security challenges in creeks of the Niger Delta.
According to him, there would be a total clampdown on criminals and other hoodlums, who have made coastal areas in the South-South unsafe for socio-econonmic activities, particularly in the oil bearing communities.
He warned that, all criminal elements, who thrives on illegal oil bunkering, sea piracy and other form of criminality should come to terms with the fact that their time is up in this region.
“We are battle ready not to only contain such inimical activities, but also to nip them in bud,” he said adding, “As part of the transformation in the Nigeria Navy, a central naval command has been carved out of the Western command in Lagos and the Eastern command in Calabar.”
He added, “More of our naval personnel would patrol the creeks and the high seas to flush out economic saboteurs and other, who constitutes threats to socio-economic activities in this strategic zone.”
Rear Admiral Olutoyin said Bayelsa was chosen as the base of the Central Naval Command due to its economic relevance to the revenue generation of Nigeria, through oil exploration and operational imperatives.
“We are here to compliment the efforts of other security agencies, most especially the Joint Task Force codenamed Operation Pulo Shield, through active collaboration to the rid South-South of any form of criminality along the coastal lines,” he declared.
“Our scope of coverage stretches over 156 nautical miles, which is equivalent to 300 kilometers from Benin, in Edo State to Bayelsa, Delta, Kogi and Anambra State,” he noted.
In his remark, the Bayelsa State governor, Henry Seriake Dickson said “We are grappling with the increasing cases of piracy on the high sea and mindless killings along the riverine communities. We are not unmindful of the sacrifices the navy and other security agencies had made, while responding to security challenges in this state.”