Sunday, January 15, 2017 10:54 pm
The Nigerian Navy has invaded an illegal Nigerian Merchant Navy Coastal Defence Force training camp at Ijanikin area along Lagos-Badagry Expressway, arresting four of its staff and 12 trainees.
Commodore Maurice Eno, Commanding Officer, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Beecroft, who paraded the suspects, said on Sunday in Apapa, Lagos that those arrested included 13 males and three females with different educational background.
Eno said the suspects were arrested on Jan. 10 following an earlier arrest of an impostor, Navy Warrant Officer, Lukumon Bello, by soldiers at Irekiti in Badagry, where he had paraded himself as a naval officer.
He said that further interrogation by men of the Nigerian Navy Forward Operating Base (FOB), Badagry, led to swooping on the camp, arresting additional 15 persons between 17 and 42 years old.
He gave their names as Commander Adewale Seun (CO), Lt. Adeoye Busuyi; Lukman Bello and Christopher Ezekiel.
The arrested trainees, he said were Musa Nasiru; Olabimi Bisola; Sunday Sule; Ilesanmi Quadri; Dauda Dogara; Beshel Godswill; Awha Seyon; Monday James; Miss Cecilia Okpa; Manmanse Foiter; Mr Olowokere Babatunde; and Adebayo Blessing.
Eno disclosed that the recruited suspects were made to pay N30, 000 as training fees, noting that the illegal facility had 35 trainees out of which 23 other trainees had yet to resume training after the Christmas break.
“At about 4.30 p.m. on Jan. 10, one Lukumon Bello, identified and paraded himself as a Navy Master Warrant Officer when accosted by soldiers at Irekiti in Badagry area of Lagos.
“The manner of dressing and speech cast some doubt on his identity which prompted the soldiers to contact the Nigerian Navy Forward Operating Base in Badagry which led to his arrest.
“On interrogation, the arrested Bello was discovered to be an impostor and further investigation led to the arrest of additional 15 persons aged between 17 and 42.
“These additional 15 suspects were arrested at an illegal training camp in Oto Awori, Ijaniki, along the Lagos-Badagry Expressway on Jan. 11,’’ the commodore said.
Eno said the training camp was operated illegally as maritime agencies had been “dissolved and proscribed by the Federal Government of Nigeria through its Official Gazette No. 58 Vol. 100 of Aug. 28, 2013’’.
One of the trainees identified as Miss Bisola, told a Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that she paid N55, 000 for both the forms and offer admission letter.
“I paid the money at Shagamu and was told the training was going to take place in Port Harcourt.’’
The 25-year-old expressed disappointment with the organisers of the phantom training school, regretting that she was deceived into believing the training camp was an authentic government institution.
She added that after paying the money, she was called a month later to start training in Port Harcourt.
“We were supposed to spend six months but had only completed three months training before we were arrested by the Navy.
“They told us to be patient that the academy will be approved by the government before the completion of training. We have been deceived.
“We fed ourselves but sometimes, our commanding officer gave us some money to feed,’’ she said.
In a related development, a suspect, one Ebube Dike was also apprehended by naval personnel on routine patrol along Lekki-Epe Expressway on Jan. 2.
“The suspect arrested was also illegally dressed and paraded himself as a naval personnel.
“Useful information from him led to the tracking and arrest of one Isaac Utibe-Abasi during a sting operation in the midnight of Thursday, Jan. 12, in Ilasan, Eti-Osa Local Government Area,’’ Eno said.
He warned criminal minds like the suspects to turn a new leaf or be ready to face the wrath of the law.
“We have cogent intelligence report that there are other collaborators that are equally illegally parading themselves as naval personnel.
“They are hereby warned to turn a new leaf and pursue legal means of livelihood, otherwise, the long arm of the law will catch up with them,’’ he said.
While condemning illegalities, especially when navy uniforms were used to commit crimes, Eno said the command was combat ready to deal decisively with such criminals.
He advised Nigerians to report the existence of mushroom security outfits to any naval unit or other security agencies.
He also urged parents and guardians to closely supervise the activities of their children, dependents and wards.
“This is because unsuspecting members of the public easily fall prey to these unscrupulous individuals who extort money from them with the promise of employment at the end of the training,’’ he said.
Eno handed the suspects to the Nigeria Security Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), saying it marked the end of preliminary investigations and signaled further investigation and possible prosecution of the suspects.
The NSCDC Commandant, Mr Tajudeen Balogun, receiving the suspects said that investigations would continue, adding that they would be prosecuted at the appropriate court of law.
Balogun expressed satisfaction with the robust cooperation between the Nigerian Navy and his organisation.
“Further investigation will be conducted and they will be charged to court as soon as possible,’’ he said. (NAN)