According to reports, the Nigerian Navy has formulated fresh strategies to flush out militants from the Niger Delta region and end ongoing attacks on oil installations.
It was gathered that the strategies when fully implemented would enable the navy through their formations in the region to gather intelligence on planned attacks and stop their execution.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral, Ibok-Ete Ibas, and his team of senior officers were in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, Monday, to tour formations of the Central Naval Command (CNC) in preparation to roll out the new order.
Ibas in company with the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), CNC, Rear Admiral Mohammed Garba and unit commanders of CNC assessed military hardwares and the readiness of the command to tackle security challenges in its Areas of Responsibility (AoR).
Ibas spent time to evaluate equipment at the Nigerian Naval Ship (NNS) SOROH; naval gunboats at the Government House jetty and later received briefs on challenges facing the CNC.
He further went to the Brass Island where he was conducted round the naval installations at a major command base of the CNC, the Forward Operational Base, FORMOSO.
Ibas, who paid a courtesy visit to the state Governor, Mr. Seriake Dickson, said the tour was aimed at getting all the formations in the region ready to professionally and effectively key into the strategies of riding the region of criminally and militancy.
As part of the fresh strategies he said the navy identified all the flash points in the region and was creating mobile stations to stop illegal activities of criminals and militants.
He said more areas had been identified along the waterways for the establishment of checkpoints and naval security posts.
He said: “The Navy came into the state about five years ago. I am also aware that the presence of the Navy has changed the maritime security landscape of the state and indeed the Niger Delta area in fighting maritime crime which is of concern to all well-meaning Nigerians.
“I want to assure you that the Nigerian Navy together with our sister security agencies will do all within our powers to ensure that we create an enabling environment that will allow for legitimate use of maritime space.
“I wish to use this forum to commend the state for its logistics support to the Navy. We have expanded our bases and units now to create mobile stations which enable us to be closer to the people and to tackle maritime crimes. We are also in the process of creating additional checkpoints to cover flash points in the region.”
Ibas said he was able to appraise and evaluate the security architecture on ground adding that the Navy had enhanced its operational capacity by acquiring more gunboats that had been allocated to various units.
He also said that the Navy had been able to put in place, infrastructure to support its operations in various bases and units.
He said the navy conducted training both locally and abroad to prepare the personnel to be able to man the various equipment in place.
He said: “We are hoping that when we put all these together, the Navy is going to be more proactive in delivery of services and with the various exercises we are conducting, we will be able to rid Bayelsa State and the maritime environment of the criminal elements in the region”.
He commended Dickson, who was represented by his Deputy, Rear Admiral John Jonah (retd) for his support to the CNC and congratulated him on his electoral victory at the Supreme Court.
He disclosed that the governor provided 100 hectares of land for the navy to build a permanent site for NNS SOROH.
Ibas further said the navy was planning to establish its welfare school in the state to contribute to learning and strengthen military-civilian relationship in the state.
But the naval chief appealed to the governor and other governors in the region to play their roles in ensuring peace in the Niger Delta region.
Addressing the governor, he said: “The responsibility lies on those of you in government and security agencies.
“While we commend you for your support, we are also asking you to appeal to Bayelsans to maintain the peace. Tell your people that development cannot come without security”.
Responding, Dickson said his government was always determined to rid the state of criminal elements.
He said his government was anchored on zero tolerance for crime and criminality.
He said: “For Bayelsa State to be secured, the waterways must be secured. That does not mean that we will leave the land. We know that people go to river to harvest for land use.
“But the area of harvest is where the contest is now and the national establishment that has the responsibility, resources and training to do that for the country is the Navy.
“So, the Nigerian Navy needs the encouragement from all of us to ensure that the riverside areas and maritime environment are safe.
“If we continue to collaborate more with sister security services, consistent with availability of logistics to carry out operations, we are going to have a very peaceful Christmas. Again, even after Christmas, we are going to sustain operations.”
He appealed to the Naval authorities to create more of those mobile stations in the state, insisting that Bayelsa is “more riverine than Rivers State and more delta than Delta State”.
Dickson said that his belief was hinged on the fact that if the security agencies and the relevant authorities continued in the same spirit, the state and the region would be rid of criminals.