Former President Goodluck Jonathan, his then defence minister, Aliyu Gusau, former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke and the immediate past Chief of Naval Staff, Usman Jubrin, an admiral, may soon have to answer questions on an alleged N2.4billion house boats rent scandal for the Nigerian Navy.Jonathan

An ongoing investigation into the conducts of officials of the immediate past administration indicate that Mr. Jonathan instructed Mrs. Alison-Maduekwe to release funds from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to the defence chiefs to rent 13 House Boats to fight oil theft in the Niger Delta.

The boats were hired for N2.4 billion, an amount experts believe is more than enough for the country to buy the boats outright.

Authoritative security sources investigating alleged financial misdeeds of the Jonathan administration said their market surveys showed the boats rented for that princely sum could have been acquired for keeps at N100million each, bringing the total cost to N1.3billion.

Our sources said the decision to rent the boats was taken by the former defence minister, Mr. Gusau, and some of the recently retired service chiefs without seeking the advice of military officers familiar with such procurement, including those on the ground in the Niger Delta area, who were of the opinion that the cost of renting the boats was too high. Read More →

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By Chineme Okafor in Abuja with agency report


• More sacks to follow in sweeping shake up

• Govt’s 113-tanker ban may hurt Nigeria’s oil revenue

The federal government yesterday approved the retirement of all eight Group Executive Directors (GED) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), in a sweeping move expected to affect more senior executives of the state-run oil company over the next one week.Towers-Abuja
Their removal came exactly one day after the appointment of Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu as the new Group Managing Director (GMD) of the corporation that has been bogged down by gross mismanagement and corruption.
The affected GEDs, whose retirement was with immediate effect, include Mr. Bernard Otti, GED Finance and Accounts; Dr. Timothy Okon, acting GED Exploration and Production, who also doubled as Coordinator Corporate Planning and Strategy of NNPC; Mr. Adebayo Ibirogba, GED Engineering and Technology; and Dr. David Ige, GED Gas and Power. Read More →

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Rear Admiral Henry Babalola, the Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Naval Command, Nigerian Navy,
​has ​said that ​naval personnel were on stand-by to assist the Independent National Electoral Commission convey election materials to riverine areas.navy

Mr. Babalola said this on Saturday in Calabar during an interview.

“The navy is not directly involved in this election. But we are on stand-by to assist INEC in conveying election materials to riverine areas whenever we are being called. Read More →

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By Kingsley Omonobi, Henry Umoru, Samuel Oyadonga, Luka Binniyat &  Ikechukwu Nnochiri

 


ABUJA – The Nigerian Navy, yesterday, insisted that its helicopter that crashed last Saturday in Okoloba community in Bayelsa State, killing Kaduna State Governor, Patrick Yakowa and erstwhile National Security Adviser, General Andrew Azazi (Rtd) was certified to fly by a ‘Certified Technical Support Engineer’. The Navy made the clarification on a day the investigation team set up by the Federal Government led by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba arrived Bayelsa State capital, Yenagoa to commence investigation.

From right; Mrs Yemisi Dosima Suswan, Mrs. Amina Yakowa and former Deputy governor of Plateau State, Mrs. Pauline Tallen during the condolence visit to the Yakowa’s home in Kaduna.

Meanwhile, the 36 state governors,  under the aegis of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, yesterday resolved that they must  be allowed to engage the services of a private consultant to carry out an investigation into the cause of the mishap that claimed one of them.
Chief of Training and Operations at Naval headquarters, Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogbor who made the disclosure in Abuja said that contrary to insinuations that the Augusta 105 helicopter that crashed had engine problems, the helicopter was certified to fly by a ‘Certified Technical Support Engineer’.

According to him, “the helicopter had her last scheduled routine maintenance concluded on  November 19, 2012 by certified technical support engineer. When the aircraft crashed, it  had more than 80 flight hours before the next scheduled routine maintenance”.
However, he said the Nigerian Navy will not want to pre-empt the findings of the investigation.

Ogbor said: “Membership of the Navy board includes aircraft investigation specialists, Augusta Westland, manufacturers of the aircraft and other aviation regulatory agencies as provided for by extant regulations. It is expected that the board will come out with remote and immediate causes of the accident with far reaching recommendations that will forestall future occurrences.

“Nigerian Navy helicopters including the NN07 that crashed are properly maintained and serviced regularly in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications.“In line with this, the Nigerian Navy conducts routine maintenance on helicopters in conjunction with the aircraft manufacturers, Augusta Westland. In order to ensure serviceability of helicopters, a certified technical support engineer from Augusta Westland is retained in Nigeria by the Navy at huge cost to support maintenance efforts.

“The engineer in collaboration with Nigerian navy aircraft engineers certify the air worthiness of the helicopters before any deployment”.

Regarding experience of pilots, the CTOP said: “As at the time of the incident, the helicopter had flown 1, 704 flight hours. The Nigerian Navy pilots are very experienced. In fact, the Captain in Command had flown over 800 hours while the Co-pilot had flown over 300 hours.
“All our pilots are trained in the best aviation institutions all over the world. Additionally, spare parts for the helicopters are obtained from the manufacturers, Augusta Westland, and or its approved maintenance center worldwide” he said.

Disclosing that maintaining an air arm in the Nigerian Navy was not an aberration, Ogbor said: “It is pertinent to note that navies worldwide maintain air assets in support of their maritime operations. Such navies include the Royal Navy, Australian Navy, Malaysian Navy, South African Navy and Egyptian Navy to mention a few.”

Govs seek services of private investigator

Meanwhile, worried by last Saturday’s helicopter crash, the 36 states governors  under the aegis, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, yesterday resolved that they must be allowed to engage the services of a private consultant to carry out an investigation into the causes of the mishap.

Rising from an emergency meeting held at the Rivers State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja yesterday, the governors also agreed that as a body, it would serve as an observer to the proposed investigation by President Goodluck Jonathan.

It will be recalled that  the Saturday  helicopter crash in Bayelsa State killed the governor of Kaduna state, Patrick Yakowa, former National Security Adviser (NSA), General Owoye Azazi, their security aides and the two pilots.

In a Communique signed by Chairman of the NGF and Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the governors also called for thorough investigation and openness into the crash.
According to the  communique, “Forum  further resolved to engage a consultant to participate in the investigation process or serve as an observer.

“Members support the directive of the President for a thorough investigation into the immediate and remote causes of the helicopter crash and calls for transparency and openness in the process.”

It was gathered that immediately after the meeting, the governors headed straight to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja  to Kaduna to condole with the widow of Patrick Yakowa, Amina and the newly sworn in governor of the state, Ramalan Yelo and the people of the state.

Before the meeting, the governor of Niger state, Babangida Aliyu had lamented the deaths of prominent Nigerians in air crashes, just as he recalled the death of the former Deputy Inspector General of Police, Haruna John, who died in a similar helicopter crash in Jos.
Before the meeting, some of the governors who were seen discussing in groups about  the ill fated helicopter, however questioned how the helicopter could have openly exploded mid air before reaching ground.

One of the governors from the north, said: “ With what is happening, nobody is safe.”
Governors of Imo, Anambra, Adamawa, Rivers, Abia, Ogun, Ondo, Kebbi, Yobe, Niger, Sokoto, Kogi, Edo, Plateau, and Gombe states. Nasarawa, Bauchi, Enugu were represented by their deputy governors.

Bayelsa State government on its part said it is eagerly awaiting the outcome of the investigation into the crash. Governor Seriake Dickson made this known yesterday while receiving the investigative team led by the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba, in Government House Yenagoa.

Describing the incident as a monumental tragedy, Dickson in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, reaffirmed his administration’s commitment and support for the investigation.

Nigerians must remain united —Naval Chief

Earlier, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba had called on Nigerians to remain united in spite of the difficulties encountered as a result of the national loss.

According to him, despite all, we will continue to give thanks to God.

The CNS informed Governor Dickson that President Goodluck Jonathan has directed a detailed investigation of the helicopter crash, assuring that, all necessary steps would be taken to unravel the problems that led to the incident.

NBA calls for probe

The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, yesterday, urged the Federal Government to order thorough investigation into the helicopter crash.

The body, in a statement issued by its national president, Chief Okey Wali, SAN, said there was need to probe the cause of that uncanny air mishap which also killed four other persons, “so as to avoid future occurrences of such ugly incident.

“The NBA calls on the federal Government to order thorough investigation into the helicopter crash to determine the causes so as to avoid future occurrences of such ugly incident

“Our faith in the Almighty cannot be tempted, we will remain faithful and continue to pray for the repose of their souls in the bossom of the Almighty, while praying for fortitude for their families, friends, states and our country to bear these irreparable losses. May the souls of those faithful departed rest in peace,” read the statement.

Cross River Acting Gov reacts

The Acting Governor of Cross River State, Barr Efiok Cobham has commiserated with President Goodluck Jonathan and the people and governments of Kaduna and Bayelsa states on the death of Governor Patrick Yakowa and Gen. Owoye Azazi describing their manner of death as horrific and saddening.

We ‘ll get to the root of the crash —Defence
Minister

Minister of State for Defence, Erelu Olusola Obada, yesterday, declared that the Defence ministry will leave no stone unturned in getting at the root of the Navy helicopter crash last Saturday that claimed the lives of six people including Patrick Yakowa and General Owoye Azazi.

“The Ministry of Defence will leave no stone unturned to ascertain the cause of the unfortunate incident, and wishes to assure all Nigerians of the continued commitment and dedication of the Ministry of Defence towards service of the nation”.

Patience Jonathan weeps on meeting Yakowa’s widow

The First Lady, Dame Patence Jonathan could not restrain herself from weeping inconsolably on meeting Dame Amina Yakowa, the widow of late Governor Ibrahim Yakowa, at the Kaduna State Government House, yesterday

Jonathan’s wife who led a delegation of about 18 governors’ wives broke down in tears and wept loudly.

“I am sorry that I am crying”, she said. “I cry because am a woman. I know what she’s passing through. We came here to console her and the good people of Kaduna State.

“Yakowa was a peaceful man, a man who was everything-  a strong, hard working man. My sister, my  friend, we are sitting here  in sorrow.  I want you to know that you are the mother and father of your children now. We would continue holding you in prayers. “It is only God that can comfort because man cannot comfort you.
“May Almighty God comfort  you.”

 

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Onwuka Nzeshi

 


Serial negligence of security institutions, inadequate number of patrol  ships,  dilapidated equipment and the desperation of some Nigerians  to make a living out of crime were yesterday identified as critical factors responsible for the upsurge in illegal oil bunkering in Nigeria.

Naval patrol

Also Thursday, fresh facts emerged  on  the recent arrest of two foreign ships suspected to be involved in illegal oil bunkering in Nigeria’s territorial waters.

The Nigeria Navy said that contrary to the information in the public domain, one of the ships named MT Vanessa had no crude oil cargo in it as at the time it was impounded by naval personnel. The earlier report said the vessel had 8.5million barrels of crude oil.
The flag of the vessel, the Nigerian  Navy  said  was  Belgium and not France  while it had a fifteen man crew made up of six Romanians and nine Filipinos.

These revelations came as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Olusheyi Petinrin and the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ola Saad Ibrahim appeared before the Joint Committee on Petroleum (Upstream) and Navy where they  gave some insights into the challenges  security agencies face  in combating crude oil theft in the coastal areas of the country.

In a presentation before the lawmakers, the  naval chief said that the large expanse of the Nigerian territorial waters and inadequate number of ships to patrol the vast coastline has been a major challenge to the Navy.

Vice Admiral Ola Saad Ibrahim disclosed that the. Navy had always had difficulties patrolling the  country’s territorial waters spanning across 84,000 square nautical miles and having  an  oil  pipeline network stretching across 6,000 miles.

“The ships we have are tired old war  horses  that are dilapidated beyond economic repairs. This is due to serial negligence of national security  institutions  over the years. The House Committee on Navy is aware of the state of the Navy. In other climes, the Navy is supposed to take delivery of new ships almost every year.

“For the Nigerian Navy to be efficient, we must talk about recapitalisation. In simple terms, we need to change the face of the Navy by buying new and more  vessels for our operations.  NNS Thunder, the latest in the fleet  which  acquired from the United States is forty three years old. We need a renewal of our vessels that are largely old,” he said.

Ibrahim said the challenges of the Nigerian Navy has been further compounded by the activities of some unpatriotic Nigerians who live off stolen crude oil and are prepared to continue with it as a business till death.

In a separate presentation,the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Olusheyi Petinrin said the security agencies have been working hard to combat the menace of illegal oil bunkerers operating  in the country.

He said going by the statistics made available to security agencies by the Oil Producers Trade Section (OPTS), crude oil theft which hovered around nine million barrels per month as at January last year has decline to about three million barrels per month after the inauguration of a special task force on the issue.

According to Petinrin, the security agencies have commenced the registration of all engine  powered boats and barges in the coastal areas of the country to enable government track and identify each of them.

Beyond the registration of the vessels, security agencies have also begun to capture the biometric data of their owners to ensure that any vessel  involved in any illegal business could be traced to its owner. The Navy, he said , has also begun to mount house boats at the mouths of the various creeks  to serve as surveillance posts against those local vessels that usually transport stolen crude oil to ocean going vessels anchored on the high seas.

 

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By Odita Sunday

 


TWO warships, the Royal and French naval warships have arrived Nigeria for joint maritime training and operations with the personnel of the Nigerian Navy.

The training, according to Naval spokesman in Lagos, Lieutenant Commander Jerry Omodara, would enhance the security of the West African Coast.

The British navy popularly called the Royal Navy came into Nigerian port with HMS Dauntless, a destroyer warship, under the Command of Captain Will Warrender. His French counterpart, Commander Bourhis Gwenegan sailed into Lagos with  L’Herminier war vessel, a frigate.

The Commanding officers of the two ships were escorted to the headquarters of the Western Naval Command, Apapa, Lagos by their respective countries’ Defence Advisers in Nigeria, Colonel James Hugh and Colonel Marcelo Oliveira.

During a courtesy visit to the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Ameen Ikioda, both Commanding Officers noted that the partnership was to strengthen the control of West Africa Coast against piracy and sea criminality.

Commanding Officers of the ships were received by the FOC and his management team including the Chief Staff Officer, (CSO) Commodore Adebowale Dacosta, Command Operations Officer, (COO) Commodore Henry Babalola, Fleet Commander, Western Naval Command, Commodore Livinus Iwuoha and Captain Saheed Akinwande, among others.

Speaking during the courtesy visit, the Commanding Officer of Royal Navy Ship HMS Dauntless Captain Warrender, said the collaboration is a timely venture that would see the participating countries pool their resources to ensure that the maritime domain of West Africa is free from criminality, thereby boosting economic activities.

Warrender added that while in the country, they would be conducting joint training operations towards developing capacity in maritime operation.

“It is an absolute honour to come to Nigeria, the first of our visit since the commissioning of HMS Dauntless two years ago. The HMS Dauntless is one of the most advanced destroyer warships in the world today. The ship left the United Kingdom in March and will head back in October after the conclusion of this joint collaboration with Nigeria and some other West African countries,” he said.

His French counterpart, Colonel   Gwenegan, acknowledged the great work the Nigerian Navy was doing on the waterways, especially on the Gulf of Guinea where constant patrol of different Navy platforms have reduced piracy to a reasonable extent.

He said: “It is a major thing that the Nigerian Navy has achieved in this region so it is important that we work together to enhance the security of the waterways.”

In his response, the FOC Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral  Ikioda, also applauded the ships and their crew.

 

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By Chiemelie Ezeobi

 


President Goodluck Jonathan Friday  again harped on the need to encourage local content in all sectors in the country and commended the Nigerian Navy and Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ola Saad Ibrahim, for their efforts in protecting the nation’s waterways.

President Goodluck Jonathan

The president made the comment at the Naval Dockyard, Victoria Island, Lagos, when he inaugurated the first warship to be manufactured locally, a Seaward Defence Boat, constructed by the Nigerian Navy.

The inauguration was held as part of the week-long 56th anniversary celebration of the navy.

Declaring that the featwas a sign of better things to come in the armed forces and the country at large, President Jonathan said it was time for Nigerians to look inward and produce things locally instead of relying on other countries.

Jonathan said the commissioning of the Nigeria Navy Ship (NNS) Andoni, solely built and fitted by naval engineers, the warship would be deployed to fight sea criminals across the nation’s territorial waters.

The President said: “The commissioning of the new ship is the beginning of transformation in the country and in another 10 to 15 years, we would be starting a project that would take Nigeria to space. We have creative and intelligent people in Nigeria.
“Today, I am particularly pleased because Nigeria at independence had Nigeria Airways, Nigeria Shipping Line and quite a number of other investments and they were doing quite well.

“But because there was no indigenous touch, all these died over a period. And we refused to embrace technology. We are told that the countries that were at par with us, some of them have built aircraft, choppers.”

He added: “With the government repositioning the country, we encourage the Nigerian content even in the oil industry. The new crop of Nigerian engineers have begun a revolution by manufacturing most things locally now.

“A number of things are being fabricated locally. I was in Lagos not too long ago and I saw equipment for drilling and marine that are being built. This is the beginning of transformation. You cannot transform without technological revolution as a nation, this is the beginning.”

The President said it was one of the reasons his administration came up with a special scholarship for intelligent and brilliant students.

“I am not saying only those who have First Class are brilliant. Some of the people we celebrate all over the world are school drop-outs, yet they are just creative,” he said.

The Naval Chief, Vice-Admiral Ola Ibrahim, said the success of manufacturing NNS Andoni in Nigeria showed the navy’s commitment to the transformation agenda of President Jonathan.
He said: “The completion of this boat is a testimony of our commitment to the local content regime and the spirit of the Jonathan transformation agenda.”

Noting that the human capital to continue to deliver is readily available, he promised that the entire NN family would not disappoint the nation as it strives to add at least one vessel to the NN fleet yearly.

“It gladdens my heart to state that this SDB was designed and built after other River Town Class Patrol Craft in the NN inventory such as NNS Yola and NNS Brass, albeit with several modifications.
“The basin and sea trials of the boat were successfully carried out in compliance with International Maritime Organisation’s Certification,” he said.

 

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