BY GABRIEL OKECHUKWU, PORT HARCOURT
The Officer in Tactical Command of “Exercise Obangame Express 2022”, Commodore Olusoya Bankole says, the main Objective of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo is to maintain zero tolerance in maritime crimes within Nigerian territorial waters and the gulf of Guinea.
Commodore Bankole who made this known at the end of the exercise at Federal Ocean Terminal Onne Rivers State, insisted that Nigerian Navy places premium on the training of seamen.
For eight days, the twelfth edition of Exercise Obangame Express which is an annual event meant to secure the maritime domain was held.
About thirty Navies participated in the exercise with the intention to form stronger alliance with International Navies from Africa, Europe and America for adequate policing of the water ways especially the gulf of Guinea so as to boost commerce and economic development.
The exercise covered Central Naval Command Area of Responsibility being the host, extending patrols to Bonny, Sombrero Rivers, Escravos, Forcados and Igbokoda.
Speaking to News men at the end of the exercise, the Officer in Tactical Command of Exercise Obangame Express 2022, Commodore Olusoya Bankole who described this year’s edition as successful noted that the exercise was characterized by several drills and operations such as checking Illegal and unregulated fishing, trafficking in persons, illegal arms deal, oil theft and narcotics.
Commodore Bankole explained that one of the major objectives of the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo was to achieve inter-agency collaboration in maritime security hence sister agencies including the Ministry of Justice, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Immigration , Department of Fisheries, among others were part of the exercise.
Commodore Bankole who is also the Fleet Commander, Central Naval Command, gave assurance that the training sea men were subjected to during the operation will go a long way in the bid to guarantee adequate security of the maritime domain.
Ten ships and two helicopters were deployed by Nigerian Navy for the exercise to maintain constant patrols and presence at sea.
High point of the exercise was arrest of about twenty suspects for engaging in oil theft, illegal arms deal, drug trafficking and unregulated fishing while their vessels were confiscated along the line.