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Nigerian Navy’s Eastern Command claims saving N95bn in oil theft crackdown

Outgoing Naval Commander Highlights Successes in Anti-Crime Operations During Tenure

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In a testament to intensified efforts against oil theft and maritime criminality, the Eastern Naval Command of the Nigerian Navy has asserted that its operations between April 2023 and February 2024 resulted in savings of N95 billion for the nation. Rear Admiral Olusola Oluwagbire, speaking in Calabar during a ceremonial parade marking the conclusion of his tenure as Flag Officer Commanding, revealed the substantial impact of the command’s endeavors in combating illicit activities at sea.

Since President Bola Tinubu’s directive to security agencies to tackle oil theft head-on, the Nigerian Navy has escalated its crackdown on maritime crimes. Last year saw a surge in operations targeting illegal refineries and oil theft, with the Nigerian Army reporting the destruction of 233 illegal refineries in the Niger Delta region and the arrest of 112 suspects in 2023 alone. The recent arrest of the motor tanker SAISNIL II in Lagos State further underscores the Navy’s relentless pursuit of those engaged in crude oil theft.

Rear Admiral Oluwagbire highlighted the command’s achievements, including the apprehension of 13 vessels and 101 suspects involved in illegal bunkering, crude oil theft, and other maritime offenses. Additionally, the Navy deactivated over 300 illegal refining sites and seized substantial quantities of crude oil and petroleum products, valued at N95 billion in the current market.

During his tenure, Oluwagbire oversaw significant infrastructure development initiatives across naval bases, units, and establishments. Notable projects include the construction of a 16-room officer accommodation facility at the Nigerian Navy Ship Pathfinder and the renovation of senior officers’ quarters at the forward operating base in Bonny.

Acknowledging the collective effort of naval personnel and civilian staff, Oluwagbire expressed gratitude for their support and urged continued cooperation with his successor, Rear Admiral Saheed Akinwande. The outgoing commander emphasized the vital role of teamwork in achieving operational success and underscored the need for sustained commitment to maritime security objectives.

Rear Admiral Olusola Oluwagbire assumed leadership of the Eastern Naval Command on April 11, 2023, and leaves behind a legacy of resolute action against maritime crime and a commitment to safeguarding Nigeria’s maritime interests.

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