Remarkable 2023: Nigerian Navy Remains the Guardian of Nigeria's Blue Frontier, Defender of Wealth By Olayemi Esan

In 2023, the military maritime power, Nigerian Navy under the command of the Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ikechukwu Ogalla has turned the tide against crude oil theft and other forms of maritime crimes, thereby securing a brighter future for the country. 

The Nigerian Navy is becoming an impenetrable wall against criminal assault on Nigeria's maritime domain and restoring a safe maritime environment to sustain our national development and prosperity.

Appraising the efforts in curbing Crude Oil Theft (COT) between January and December 2023, the Nigerian Navy destroyed 703 illegal refining sites and arrested 5 barges, 690 cotonou boats laden with stolen crude, 116 speed boats as well as 232 suspects engaged in Crude Oil Theft. 

During the period, according to the Chief of Naval Staff,  Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ikechukwu Ogalla, 82 vehicles/trucks and 23 vessels were also arrested. Among the vessels arrested include MT MARINE EXPRESS, MT CECILIA, MT UFUOMA, MT VIGOR I, MV BARGE AYEBA ENENI, FT LAMU and MT VINNALARIS I LAGOS among others. Arising from these, 46, 369,219 ltrs of AGO, 2,472,200 ltrs of DPK and 438, 886 ltrs of PMS were recovered. Similarly, the NN recovered 803, 353.20 bbls of crude oil. 

At current market values, the seizures made translate to about One Hundred and Five Billion Naira. Additionally, the Nigerian Navy has been active in the fight against illicit drug trafficking especially within the maritime domain. Between April and November 2023, the Nigerian Navy arrested 692 bags of Cannabis Sativa, worth about One Billion, Three Hundred and Eighty-Four Thousand Naira. The products have since been handed over to the NDLEA as required by law.

These are not isolated successes, they are achievements recorded as a result of deliberate strategic policy formulation, operational implementation and tactical execution. 

Remarkably this year, the Nigerian Navy launched its first of the Nigerian Navy (NN) 2 x 76m, 1200 Tons High Endurance Offshore Patrol Vessels (HE OPVs) at the Dearsan Shipyard, Tuzla, Istanbul, Turkey on Thursday 26 October 2023. The newly built HE OPV P203 was launched by the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) - Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ikechukwu Ogalla. It would be recalled that the Nigerian Navy signed a contract with Dearsan Shipyard, Turkey for the construction of 2 units of 76m HE OPV on 3 November 2021 and the Keel Laying Ceremony of the 2 ships which signified the commencement of their construction took place on 16 September 2022. 

These ships when fully completed and commissioned into the Service of the Nigerian Navy, would complement and further sustain the efforts of the Fleet in ensuring naval presence at sea. This would help to curb the menace of oil theft and other illegalities in Nigeria’s maritime environment in particular and the Gulf of Guinea in general.” Additionally, “the OPV would assist the NN in managing Nigeria’s Exclusive Economic Zone, including the provision of maritime security of areas and effective disaster relief.” 

Relatively, following this giant step of the launching ceremony of the first 76m HE OPV P203, it is expected that all the ship’s installations will be fixed, connected and worked between January – May 2024. Other expectations include conducting harbour acceptance tests for the ship between July – August 2024 and delivery of the ship in August 2024 or September 2024. It is also planned that the launching ceremony of the second 76m HE OPVP 204 will be held in February 2024 at the Dearsan Shipyard, Turkey. 

However, despite the criminal's change of tactics and routes, the Navy stayed ahead of the curve, to anticipate their moves, and to counter them with greater resolve. With renewed vigour, the troops are utilizing all available resources to anticipate criminal activity and disrupt their operations before they can even begin. The troops are saturating the waters with a credible presence. They are hunting down, intercepting and bringing to justice every illegal vessel. With seamless collaboration with the Nigerian Air Force and Army, government agencies as well as duly recognised private surveillance companies, the Navy has ensured a unified front against crude oil theft. 

With the support of President Tinubu, the Nigerian Navy is working tirelessly to equip its troops with tools to dominate the maritime domain – faster boats, advanced surveillance technology and robust intelligence networks.

The Nigerian Navy remains committed to sustaining and collaborating with all stakeholders in the fight against Crude Oil Theft (COT) and other forms of maritime crimes. Most importantly, the Nigerian Navy remains the guardian of Nigeria's blue frontier, the defender of the country's wealth, and the shield that protects the nation’s future. 

Olayemi Esan is writing from Abuja. She is the MD of Spye Communications Ltd SpyeTV. She can be reached via 

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