The Nigerian Navy has arrested four ships and 22 persons, suspected to be Chinese, who allegedly entered Nigeria’s territorial waters illegally.
The Commander of the Nigeria Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder, Commodore Godwin Ochai, who announced the arrests, said the vessels were carrying large tonnes of fish.
He named the vessels as Liadda Zhong Yu 15177, Liadda Zhong Yu 15178, Liao Zhung Yu 15030, and Liao Zhung Yu 15029.
Ochair spoke while handing over the 22 suspected illegal immigrants in Onne, Rivers, on Tuesday to the Nigeria Immigration Service and the State Department of Fisheries for further investigations.
He said the suspects breached international maritime laws and procedure by fishing in Nigeria’s territorial waters without permit.
“As part of the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice-Adm. Usman Jubrin’s determination to fight maritime crimes, one of our ships, NNS Burutu, arrested four foreign ships on our waters on March 14.
“When our troops went on board the alien ships, they discovered that the four vessels had no immigration documents, neither did the 22 crew members have passports.
“Similarly, on probing further, we discovered that the suspects did not have any form of permit to engage in fishing activities in the nation’s territorial waters.
“The Nigerian Navy with its statutory responsibility to provide maritime security will continue to go after both foreign and domestic threats capable of undermining the nation’s security and economy.
“We will go after them, arrest them and put them forward for prosecution at the nation’s law courts,” he said.
Ochai said the navy was still conducting investigation into the mission of the ships.
According to him, the CNS has provided NNS Pathfinder adequate resources to carry out 24-hour surveillance of the waterways in the effort to stop oil theft, pipeline vandalism and sea piracy.
The commander urged the public to provide the navy timely information that would lead to the arrest of those undermining Nigeria’s maritime safety and the economy.
The Provost of Nigeria Immigration Service, Marine Command Onne, SP Briggs Dawaye, who took over custody of the suspects, said the command would thoroughly investigate their mission.