In its quest to ensure that kidnapping and hostage taking do not reign in riverine areas, the Nigerian Navy (NN) on Tuesday said it was taking the battle to the enclaves of the criminals.
Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Western Naval Command (WNC) Rear Admiral Oladele Daji stated this in an aside interview shortly after assuming headship of the command.
Daji, who took over the mantle of leadership as the 39th FOC from Rear Admiral Obed Ngalabak, said the NN had already identified the hideouts of these criminals and was battle ready to smoke them out.
He was reacting to a question on the seeming resurge of kidnapping and armed banditry in the southwest especially in riverine areas of Ikorodu, Epe, Ogun and Ondo which fall within the command’s area of responsibility.
Although the admiral denied there was spate in these vices, he however assured that steps were already on to flush out the criminals from their hideouts.
“We are so lucky in the military because our roles and tasks have been defined and cut out for us. For the navy, we are guided by the vision and mission of the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) as well as the Strategic Directives.
“Just as the outgone FOC mentioned, the command has strived over the years to deliver on its mandate. What we are only coming to do is build upon, bring fresh ideas into some of the challenges we have in the maritime expanse.
“Luckily for us, the federal government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has been able to acquire more boats for us to patrol. This is not to say we have enough to cover our vast maritime space but with what we have and the strategy of using the Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA), we will ensure the assets provided for us are effectively used to accomplish the tasks ahead.
“The data we have at the Naval Headquarters show that kidnapping is on the decline. Perhaps, there are one or two cases with prominence which make it seem as though it is on the increase. It is actually on the decline.
“That notwithstanding, the FOC briefed me in his handing over. We are going to the source to rout them out. These people do not leave perpetually at sea, they have where they operate from. That is one of our strategy and I won’t say more than that.”
In his valedictory remark, Ngalabak appealed to other security agencies, personnel to collaborate with his successor, who he said, would improve on existing foundations.
He noted that under his watch, the command arrested about 26 vessels, 70 suspects and rescued a vessel hijacked by pirates.