BY EYO CHARLES
Calabar — One of the main challenges confronting the Eastern Naval Command of the Nigerian Navy is the organised oil syndicate which specialises in stealing Nigerian crude oil.
The new Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Obi Charles Medani, said the syndicate is depriving the country of “staggering revenue.” Medani, who spoke during his first bi-annual inspection tour of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Victory Command, Calabar on Tuesday, however promised that it will no longer be business as usual for the oil thieves.
“The Chief of Naval Staff has made it clear that the Nigerian Navy will fight maritime crime to a standstill, especially the shameful practice of widespread stealing of the country’s crude oil by organized syndicates,” he said.
He added that programmes which would enhance the fighting spirit and efficiency of the Navy such as continuous practical training, sound professional practices, physical fitness and regimentation would be improved upon.
Maritime Security News Note:
Great words from Rear Admiral Medani, but I doubt they will comfort the six crew currently held by kidnappers. Nor will those words stop oil theft. Although the MT Kerala remains the only high profile hijacking for cargo in the Gulf of Guinea so far this year, it won’t be the last.
It would interesting to see how the Nigerian Navy feel about the Nigerian Ports Authority freely publicising the fact that there are fully laden tankers sitting around outside Lagos, waiting for berths, as reported yesterday. The newly-announced tactic of the Nigerian Navy to effectively ‘park up’ in known maritime crime hot spots seems a bit… well, futile. It’s the equivalent of parking a police car on a street corner; crime will simply shift locations in the GoG, as we’ve seen it do so frequently over the years.
Unfortunately, with widespread corruption and a black market for oil worth billions, it’s unlikely that we’ve seen the end of oil theft and piracy in the region. In the meantime, maritime criminals concentrate on kidnap for ransom as the safer option.