The Nigerian Navy says it is planning to establish a base in Tongeji Island of Ogun State to help other security agencies in combating crime.
The Flag Officer Commanding FOC Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Ferguson Bobai, told journalists when he visited the Ogun State Governor, Ibikunle Amosun, in Abeokuta the state capital.
Bobai said the new base is aimed at fighting “maritime illegalities” in the area.
He said on the directive of the Chief Naval Staff, he had already visited the site to assess available facilities.
Tongeji Island is a border community in Ipokia Local Government Area of the state on the Nigeria- Republic Benin border and is said to be rich in crude oil.
Rear admiral Bobai said when established, the naval base would serve as a checkpoint on the Nigeria-Benin Republic border.
“We have made some arrests since this year stretching from people dealing with petroleum products and these products are gotten from pipeline vandalism and smuggling of contraband and drugs which we’ve all seized in conjunction with Customs,” Mr. Bobai affirmed.
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.”
Speaking on the incessant militant activities in the state, Mr. Bobai said “as a matter of fact, there is an on-going operation called Operation Awatse. Awatse is a Hausa name to say scatter; so we hope that in a short while, the Operation Awatse would swing into intensive operations to ensure that all these places are cleaned up of these militants”.
In his response Governor Amosun urged the navy and the federal government to continue to assist the state in combating the militants.
Amodun said the Federal government should take the Tongeji island issue serious to avoid the issues arising from the ceding of the Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroun.