|CHIEF OF NAVAL STAFF, USMAN JIBRIN|
To fast track prosecution and punishment for maritime criminals who perpetuate illegalities on the nation's waterways, the Nigerian Navy (NN) yesterday appealed for a special court be created.
The Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, who made the call in Lagos at the commissioning of a patrol boat, NNS DORINA donated by the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), said the justice delivery system at the moment was making the navy pay for the lapses of others.
He said the challenge was that at the moment, the service's account is garnished by the court for ships held beyond reasonable time.
He said, "The NN is still pleading with appropriate authorities to ensure that criminals arrested are timely and completely prosecuted. This will help tremendously to deter and reduce significantly, the number of maritime crimes.
"You know the legal system we operate in Nigeria today is such that people must be given fair hearing. But along the line, some people abuse these privileges and waste other people's time, hence, creating challenges in the dispensation of justice.
"So, what we are asking for is the establishment of specials courts where criminals caught at the maritime domain will be speedily tried and convicted. This is because the current situation has serious impact on the financial burden of the NN.
"On daily basis for ships that are kept beyond reasonable time, NN's account are garnished and so, we pay for the illegalities of others."
Commending the NPA for donating the 32metre-DORINA and two 2 by 17m OCEA boats to the navy, Jibrin said the kind gesture would promote economic growth and national development.
He said, "It should serve as a great moral booster or catalyst to encourage other agencies of government to adopt same pragmatic approach to jointly solve national problems.
"The nation's maritime space is being threatened by crude oil theft, unreported and unregulated fishing, proliferation of arms, piracy, among others, but these illegal activities are decreasing especially around the Lagos waters.
"Nevertheless, the criminals are not giving up and their sympathisers within and outside Nigeria are not helping matters."
The CNS added, "This further explains the need for projection of force in Nigeria's maritime area and by extension the Gulf of Guinea. This can only be achieved with the availability of sophisticated surveillance systems, boats, ships and helicopters, all of which are capital projects that, in most cases, are beyond NN budget.
"It becomes self explanatory and undoubtedly that the NN could only optimise its operations with the support of local and international partners who share common beliefs goals and interest."
Also, the Minister for Defence, General Aliyu Gusau Mohammed, reiterated government's commitment to accord top priority to security, adding that it was one of the pillars of the administration's transformation agenda.
Represented by the Minister of State for Defence, Musiliu Obanikoro, who declined to comment on the missing girls who were kidnapped from Chibok in Borno State, Gusau urged the boat's crew commanded by Commander
Mohammed Muye, to make appreciable impact in the war against illegalities in the nation's maritime domain.