Navy To Establish Base On Tongeji Island To Check Smuggling | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Navy To Establish Base On Tongeji Island To Check Smuggling

Posted: Jul 15, 2016 at 4:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Laide Raheem


The Nigerian Navy said on Tuesday that it would establish a naval base at the Tongeji Island in Ogun state to curb activities of criminals who use the axis to smuggle petroleum products and other items to neighbouring countries especially the Republic of Benin.

Rear Admiral Ferguson Dukas Bobai, Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, made the disclosure in Abeokuta, Ogun state capital, while fielding questions from reporters shortly after he paid courtesy visit to Governor Ibikunle Amosun in his Oke Mosan office.

Bobai said that the naval command had since joined the Nigeria Army, police and other security agencies to rid waterways and creeks in both Lagos and Ogun of militants.

He added that efforts were in top gear to ensure Tongeji Island ceased to be a channel for ferrying petroleum products out of Nigeria.

The Navy Commander said that the strategic island is closer to the Republic of Benin than Nigeria on water, and noted that establishing of the naval base became imperative to ensure the island is monitored and the people further integrated into Nigeria.

“On April 4, I was at Tongeji Island in Ipokia Local Government at the instance of Chief of Naval Staff to go there; to see what kind of infrastructure we have on ground with a view to establishing a naval unit there.

“That was why we went there and interestingly that island is just five minutes to Port Novo but it is 50 minutes to Badagry and there is no connectivity on land, you will go there by water. Therefore, the people are cut off. In addition, I did promise them that when I have time, I will pay a courtesy call on the governor and I will re-emphasise what I saw there to him. I hope that in a short distance, we will establish a naval unit there to fight the numerous maritime illegalities that are being carried out in that stretch between Badagry and Benin Republic through the Tongeji Island axis.

“We have made some arrests since the beginning of this year ranging from people dealing with petroleum products and these products are gotten from pipeline vandalism and smuggling of contraband and drugs. “So, it is hoped that when the Naval base is established there, we will act as a checkpoint where people must pass to go to Benin Republic and once our presence is established there, it’s like you virtually block them. We expect to see a decline in some of these illegal activities within that stretch”, Bobai said.

Speaking on the recent activities of suspected militants who wrecked havoc in Lagos and Ogun states, the naval chief said, “As a matter of fact, you know that there is an operation ongoing called Operation Awatse. Awatse is a Hausa means to ‘scatter’, so we hope that in a short while, Operation Awatse would swing into intensive operations to ensure that all these places are cleaned up of these militants.?

“Essentially, from the maritime front, one of the greatest problems we have is in the right of way in the water front and creeks there. There are natural obstacles that will hinder us to move from point A to point B and the Chief of Naval Staff is very much concerned about that and today, we have a team that is going round some of those creeks to see how we can open up the waterways to enable us move in to confront these issues that we are talking about,” he said.