The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo has insisted that the Motor Tanker (MT) Heroic Idun and its 26 foreign crew that were ordered to be released by a Federal High court in Port Harcourt penultimate week after a plea bargain agreement with the Federal government of Nigeria would not be released until the penalties and restitution were paid.
Recall that the Marshall-Island- flagged tanker and its crew were arrested by Equatorial Guinea forces in August 2022 after a failed attempt to lift crude oil on Nigerian waters without clearance and authorization.
The tanker and its crew were thereafter handed over to the Nigerian Navy on 12 November 2022, for further investigations.
Giving an update on the development at the commissioning of Housing projects in the Lagos Area on Monday, Vice Admiral Gambo said the ship and its crew must pay N5million as penalty for the charge and $15 million dollars as restitution to the country before they are released.
He said, “It is to be noted that the vessel and crew will not be released until the penalty and restitution are paid as well as public apologies made in the print and electronic media in Nigeria and Llyod’s list.
“The successful arraignment and conviction of Motor Tanker HEROIC IDUN and her crew arrested last August, sentenced after a plea bargain to pay 5 million naira as penalty for the charge and 15 million dollars as restitution to the country, is a resilient indication that the Nigerian Navy as the nation maritime sentinel will stop at nothing to ensure the domain is safer for sustainable development of the nation’s Blue Economy.
“We must all be encouraged by this and many other achievements of the Nigerian Navy, regardless of unguarded comments and utterances from unpatriotic individuals.”
Gambo noted that the zero piracy attacks which Nigeria achieved last year led to delisting of Nigeria from the International Maritime Bureau list of piracy prone countries and further led to lifting of War Risk Premium tag on Nigeria that reduced high insurance premium for ships in Nigerian-controlled waters to about 960 United States Dollars as against 5,000 United States Dollars, per shipment.
He said, there are speculations, however, that some Gulf of Guinea countries are again being considered to be tagged with the War Risk Premium due to recent developments within the Gulf of Guinea region.
“It is on this development that I want to emphatically state that efforts must be doubled round the clock to maintain positive postures toward sustained intelligence driven patrols to rid our maritime space of all forms of insecurity,” he said.
Speaking on the projects commissioned which cut across the 3 commands in Lagos, Gambo said it will guide the Nigerian Navy towards effective discharge of its constitutional mandate and further ameliorate deficiencies experienced at the different units and bases.
Gambo urged occupants and users of the facilities to not only take ownership but inculcate a positive maintenance culture so that the projects will serve future generations of personnel.
“The Nigerian Navy is cognisant of the significance of essential infrastructure and facilities within bases and barracks as they hasten necessary comfort and essential ambience to bolster security, productivity and efficiency. It is in this regard that the Naval Headquarters has continued to prioritize infrastructural development in the hierarchy of its preferences. Certainly, commissioning these structures will further ameliorate deficiencies experienced at the respective units and bases,” he said.
Among the projects commissioned include a girl’s hostel at the Nigerian Navy Secondary School Ojo, 2 blocks of 16 by 2 bedroom for senior rates, a block of 8 by 3 bedroom for officers at Navy Town Ojo, 24 by one Under Training Rating’s Accommodation as well as renovated diving wing at the UnderWater Warfare School.
Other projects include an Administrative Block at Tongeji Island, remodeled armoury and main gate at Nigerian Navy Ship QUORRA, as well as the reconstruction and remodeling of Officer’s Long and Sub Technical Course Block with befitting amenities.
Also commissioned were shoreline revetment at Nigerian Navy Ship BEECROFT, 3 office blocks for the Naval Doctrine Command and a 250 meters runway at Naval Air Base Ojo with in-built lights and non-directional beacons to aid training and operations in restricted visibility as well as to complement the existing 100 meters runway.
“These infrastructural developments are in addition to already commissioned as well as ongoing projects like the reconstruction of the Base Flat Officers Accommodation in Nigerian Navy Ship BEECROFT as well as about 2,500 meters perimeter fence of Forward Operating Base Takwa Bay,” Gambo said.