The Nigerian Navy Central Command has, in its effort to further combat crime on the waterways, launched phase two of its ‘Operation Octopus Grip’ exercise.
Rear Adm. Bello Al-Hassan, Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Central Naval Command, while performing the flag-off on Wednesday at the Warri naval base, said the operation is to consolidate the successes of the “Operation Rivers Sweep” that was launched by the command in January.
According to him, the 11 gunboats from the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Delta have been deployed for the operation, adding that the exercise would be going on simultaneously in other Commands.
“We started the first phase of the Octopus Grip which is sea exercise on Oct. 30 in Onne. We are here to kick-start the phase two which is riverine operation in Warri.
“Eleven gunboats from the NNS Delta will be used for the exercise and it will be going on simultaneously in other Commands of the Nigerian Navy,” he said.
The FOC said the navy proceeded to an illegal refinery camp covering about 30 hectares in Bennett Island in Warri South to destroy some illegal refineries shortly after the flag-off.
“We have used swamp boogies to destroy their equipment about two weeks ago and they came back again, we are going to sustain this operation and continue to use swamp boogies because it is environment-friendly,” he said.
He said about 200 illegal camps with a lot of illegal refineries have been identified by the Command, adding that the exercise would help to further rid the creeks of crude oil theft.
Al-Hassan who noted that the action of the perpetrators as counter-productive to the economy and the ecosystem appealed to them to indulge in legal businesses.
“It is going to take a long time for the environment to be useful for meaningful farming, and again, it is also creating a lot of problem to the government in terms of stealing of crude oil,” he said.