The Nigerian Navy has expressed its readiness to combat all forms of crimes and criminalities in the riverine areas of Ondo State, specifically in Ilaje and Ese Odo Local Government Areas of the state.

The military revealed that a helicopter had been deployed in the areas to extend the “line of sight of surface assets by carrying out over the horizon targeting and passing useful information to surface assets.”

The Commanding Officer of the Nigerian Navy Forward Operating Base, Igbokoda, in Ilaje LGA, Captain Wasuku Alushi, stated this, on Thursday, while speaking on the successes recorded by the base in the area of checkmating crimes in its mandate area.

According to him, the helicopter had been deployed and it was going to be working in the environment until “we are able to arrive at a reasonable conclusion as far as kidnapping and sea robbery is concerned in this area.”

Wasuku said, “All the riverine communities are in focus, but the emphasis would be laid on Araromi Waterside, Aberike, Idiogba, Awoye, Skelewu down to Ese-Odo local government area, specifically, Safa-Arogbo and Agagba.

“After the attack on the illegal refineries was launched as well as the arrest of MT Vinnalaris 1 Lagos, crude oil production in the area has steadily improved. So, we have achieved so much success in terms of curbing crude oil theft and illegal oil bunkering as well as illegal refining of petroleum products.

“Following these successes, we discovered that the criminal elements have now shifted to kidnapping and sea robbery. You know there is a nexus between kidnapping, sea robbery, crude oil theft, or illegal bunkering as they are all perpetrated by the same criminal cartel.”

The naval boss also disclosed that a large illegal refining site at Araromi Sea-Side was discovered about six weeks ago, leading to the clampdown on some oil thieves. He noted that the move had positively improved crude oil production in the area.

“Following the criminals’ switch to kidnapping, the Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Mustapha Bala Hassan directed, that we initiate a fresh operation under the overall mandate of operation ‘Delta Sanity’, to checkmate the rising cases of kidnapping and sea robbery in FOB Igbokoda area of responsibility.

“A few days ago, a serious water wave crime occurred between Idiogba and Awoye community ( in Ilaje LGA ) where a petrol station attendant was kidnapped and an undisclosed amount of money was carted away by the criminal elements.

“Two days after, based on credible intelligence, Nigerian Navy Forward Operating Base, FOB, Igbokoda, traced the water wave kidnappers to a location close to Abereke where a suspect was arrested with incriminating evidence, like ammunition in his possession. That suspect has been transferred to one of the security agencies for further interrogation and investigation.

“So far, he has been able to make some very useful revelations that would help us in planning for future operations. We will continue to track the kidnappers to ensure the rescue of the girl.”

He enjoined the people of the area to always cooperate with the navy to enable the military to carry out their lawful activities in the maritime environment without intimidation from any quarter.

In recent times, Ondo state has become one of the targets of kidnappers in carrying out their activities,

Two weeks ago, the state Security Network Agency also known as Amotekun arrested 43 suspected criminals across the 18 Local Government Areas of the state following the abduction of occupants of an 18-seater bus.

The suspects believed to be bandits, killed the driver and left only a three-year-old kid in the bus along the Akunnu-Ayere Road at the border of Ondo and Kogi states.

Punch/Titilayo Kupoliyi

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