The Nigerian Navy, NN yesterday, requested for a temporary approval from the legislative arm of government to prosecute crude oil thieves and other sea criminals, pending when such approval would be passed into law, with a view to fast tracking the dispensation of justice.
Already, the Navy according to the Chief of Naval Staff,CNS, Vice Admiral Usman Jubrin, had written to seek permission from the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation to this effect without any response.
Lamenting the effect of the delay in judgement of sea criminals on the Service, Jubrin, who was in Lagos state to commission some projects under the Western Naval Command, to signal the end of the week-long programme marking the 59th anniversary of the NN, disclosed that already jetties were being damaged by seized ships.
According to him: “ When these criminals are arrested and handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission,EFCC; The Nigeria Police or the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC, they are taken to court. But we don’t get prompt judgement . Sometimes these arrested ships create problem for us. For instance ,where we berth them will reduce the length of sea room for other ships to ply the waterways , especially within the channels. Our jetties are now being damaged by these ships.
“As if that is not enough, on each ship we deploy an officer and a minimum of four of Ratings. On daily basis we also pay to maintain them. This, I must tell you was never budgeted for . That is why as much as possible, we want quick dispensation of justice.
“We have written to seek permission from Ministry of Justice but we have not got that because it needs the constitutional amendment before that is given to us. The area we are dealing with now is how to push it forward to the National Assembly, so that they will look and see if that is still a possibility.
“But if that is not quick enough, we are asking for a temporary approval for us to take these criminals to court on our own . If the EFCC, Nigerian Police and the NSCDC have this capacity, we have lawyers also. The most astonishing part of the problem is that here is a ship with stolen products , who then is wasting whose time in delivering judgement.?
He was however quick to exonerate his officers and men from the drastic drop in crude oil which figures according to the Oil Producers Section ,OPTS report showed a sharp reduction at 400 barrel per day as against 2.4 million barrel five months ago.