By Tunde Oguntola, Abuja
The Nigerian Merchant Navy (Coastal Defence Force) has called on the federal government to empower the force with patrol vans, rifles, speed boats and also their operational equipment.
The security formation also sought the approval of the force operational letters including promotion, appointment letters and remuneration.
In his address during a conference organised to upgrade the skills of its members and to reposition them to better discharge their functions effectively in accordance with the law, the chief of the Nigerian Merchant Navy, Commodore Ichukwu Agaba, emphatically stressed the role of the force in combating piracy, which he said would in turn complement government’s effort to boost maritime trade and unlock the vast maritime potential of Africa.
Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari approved the Nigerian Merchant Navy (Coastal Defence Force) to secure the country’s national asset and also create more jobs opportunity on April 20, 2017. Also a Federal High Court judgment in favour on the February 11, 2016 in suit No: FHC/UY/CS/67/2015 held that the security organization was not operating illegally in Nigeria.
Agaba said that the Nigerian Merchant Navy had been working for over 13 years now without basic salary adding that, they see it as a duty call to serve their fatherland.
“We have deployed our officers in thousands to Abuja ship base known as source of information ship base command, Benue state command known as Signal Ship Base Command, Lagos state known as Search And Rescue/Federal Operational Ship Base Command, Abia state Operational Ship Base Command, Edo state Operational Ship Base Command, Kaduna state Administrative Ship Base Command, Delta state Tactical Boats Operational Command, Bayelsa state Operational Command, Cross River State Protection of military load ship base command, River state Operational Command/Sea Training Depot Ship Base Command, Imo, Ogun, Lagos state and other states in the country.”
‘’Our organisation has discovered the routes and hideout of kidnappers, smugglers, and channel of importing illegal fire arms and major locations of illegal oil bunkery including Lagos, Ogun, Bayelsa, Edo, Akwa Ibom, Delta and River State. We deserved to be empowered and equipped with arms and ammunition to collaborate with the Nigerian Army and other security agencies in the country.
‘’The court order in favour of Nigeria Merchant Navy Suit No: FHC/UY/CS/67/2015 restraining anyone, organisation and officers from further invading harassing or performing any act capable of infringing our fundamental right as guaranteed by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from further violation of men.
‘’And declaration that the arrest, torture and detention of any of our trainees, men and officers as unlawful and therefore a violation of our fundamental human right as protected by the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria as prayed by the federal high court,’’ he said.