By Desmond Ejibas
Port Harcourt – The Nigerian Navy has called on the Department of State Security (DSS) to go after the sponsors of notorious sea pirate network believed to be terrorising costal waterways in Rivers and environs.
Capt. Victor Choji, the Executive Officer of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder, Port Harcourt made the call when he handed over five suspected sea pirates to DSS operatives on Wednesday.
He said aside piracy, the suspects allegedly carried out several kidnappings and robbed vessels as well as innocent commuters and their valuables in the maritime domain of Rivers.
“The suspects were arrested at various times between Oct. 31, and Nov. 12, following credible intelligence on their involvement in armed robbery at sea, kidnapping and piracy.
“The suspects have availed us with sufficient information to the extent of their illegal activities within the maritime space of Rivers state.
“So, we are handing them over to the DSS, so that they can unravel the extent of this network and to also uncover their collaborators and sponsors.
“We believe that if this is done, then we can nip it (crime) in the bud once and for all, thus bringing peace within the maritime space of Rivers state,” he said.
Choji said the navy had observed that whenever troops destroy illegal refineries and bunkering sites, perpetrators often times mutate to piracy, kidnapping and sea robbery.
He said the trend was particularly worrisome to the navy but assured that strategic measures had been put in place to tackle the ugly development.
According to him, the navy has succeeded in reducing illegal bunkering and oil theft to its barest minimum, in collaboration with other security agencies in the state.
“But, what we are seeing now is actually a mutation of this other crimes to kidnapping and piracy and the likes.
“However, we have re-strategised, and as such confident that within the shortest times that these crimes at sea would be brought to the barest minimum as well.
“This will ensure that we have safety and security within the maritime environment for lawful activities to take place,’’ he said.