PHOTO: Urhobo Today
The Nigerian Navy has waded into the controversy surrounding the alleged acquisition of seven warships by an ex-Niger Delta Militant Leader, Chief Government Ekpemupolo aka Tompolo, saying the ships belong to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA.
The Chief of Training and Operations of the Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Austin Oyagha, who made the clarification during a press briefing in Abuja on Wednesday, said reports that Tompolo had acquired warships or gunboats was untrue.
“No individual has acquired gunboats in this country, the gunboats in question actually belong to NIMASA and these boats are currently being manned by personnel of the Nigerian Navy.
“And as you are all aware, the navy has collaboration with NIMASA which dates back to more than three years and it is ongoing.
“We have a maritime component attached to the organisation in support to their statutory responsibilities in ensuring the safety of our habours and approaches to our anchorages”, he said.
Oyagha said that the collaboration was such that they could acquire boats and not weapons.
He said that when NIMASA acquired the boats, they presented them to the navy to arm them, adding that the weapons on board those boats belonged to the navy.
“NIMASA has a role of safety of the ports, habours and approaches which is outside the purview of the navy which is essentially a policing role.
“For them to carry out that role, they need to carry boats that are equipped, since they cannot carry arms, they have to collaborate with organisations like the navy which has statutory responsibility to carry arms.
“I don’t want to believe that there is any gunboat or any vessel with the name Tompolo written on it that is operating in our waters, if there is such a boat, I will like you to prove it”, He stressed.