By Henry Oladele/Lagos
The Nigerian Navy has handed over to the police one American sailor, three Greeks and five Nigerians for alleged possession of firearms and suspected crude oil theft within the maritime territory.
The Officer in Tactical Command (OTC) Commodore Dickson Olisemenogor, handed over the suspects at the Nigeria Navy Ship (NNS) BEECROFT, Apapa.
Olisemenogor said that the nine suspects were arrested aboard SEA ANGELS 3, during operation “Junction Rain’’.
“The objective of the operation is to carry out maritime law enforcement operations at sea.
“Before now, we go out there to make arrest and we hand over to relevant agencies, but the activities of these criminals have continued unabated.
“This time around, we made a detailed search and interrogation of ships at sea.
“Within the period of the operation, we interrogated over 100 ships, we boarded over 40 of them and in the process of boarding these vessels, one was suspected to be carrying illegal activities on our waters.
“When we interrogated the captain and crew members of the ship, they made us believe that there were only five Nigerians on board.
The boat was painted navy colour, and this aroused our suspicions more.
“They were not shining their electronic gadget at sea, which will indicate their position as stipulated by the International Maritime Organisation, and this attracted our attention.
“We boarded and discovered that there were more than five persons on board. There were five Nigerians, three Greeks and an American.
“Further search on the boat reviewed that they had four MI Rifles that can do anything at sea and over 1000 rounds of ammunition with them and various military kits.
“What they are doing on our waters, we do not know. We are handing over the suspects, exhibits and the boats to the Nigerian Police.
“The agency will ensure further investigation and further prosecutions,’’ Olisemenogor said.
The Deputy Commissioner of Police, Interpol Tunji Akingbola, who received the suspects, said investigation would commence immediately.
Akingbola urged the public to desist from all forms of illegality and criminal activities.