Concerned about the security risk posed by individuals and groups in the maritime sector of the economy, the Nigerian Navy has vowed to improve efforts to protect businesses in that area.
A statement yesterday in Abuja by the Naval Director of Information (DINFO), Commodore Christian Ezekobe, said the decision to launch a fresh onslaught on criminal elements threatening businesses in the maritime environment was because of the current security challenges in the country.
Also, he said the activities of illegal groups and individuals posing as security personnel had tainted the image of the navy.
According to him: “Pseudo organisations such as Nigerian Merchant Navy, Merchant Naval Force and Nigerian Sea Scout have sprung up, deceiving and recruiting unsuspecting civilians. They usually appear in the uniforms of the Nigerian Navy and parade themselves as our personnel.”
“In a recent raid conducted by operatives of the Nigerian Navy in Badagry area, the camp of one illegal group called Merchant Naval Force was discovered and dismantled. The action was sequel to reports of criminal extortion, intimidation and harassment of unsuspecting members of the public, including agents of government by ‘supposed’ naval personnel in the area,” he said.
While reiterating the resolve of the Navy to use all legal means to crack down on any person or group obstructing its operations, Ezekobe said 16 persons had been arrested for impersonation.
Two men suspected to be impersonators of naval officers were arrested in Lagos and Ogun states recently.
One Sunday Livinus Anaefo was arrested while illegally escorting vehicles along Ibafon-Victoria Island axis in Lagos. Also, Ukaegbu Lucky was apprehended at Agbara area of Ogun State for posing as a navy personnel.
“In view of the current security challenges in the country associated with militancy, cult-related activities, banditry, piracy, kidnapping and other activities, the Nigerian Navy will henceforth embark on massive crackdown on any group or individuals acting as a security risk to the maritime domain and its own operations.
“These observations on the criminal activities of imposters bring to fore the urgent need to advise parents and guardians to warn their children and wards not to fall into the temptation of impersonating personnel of the Nigerian Navy or enlisting as members of these illegal organisations by whichever name they are called, as the service will henceforth use the required lawful means to crack down on them wherever they are found,” Ezekobe said.