By Tunde Johnson, Abuja
The Nigerian Merchant Navy (Coastal Defence Force) has appealed to the federal government to officially recognize their operations.
In a letter to the office of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, dated November 21, 2017 signed by Ichukwu Agaba, a Commodore who is also the chief, Nigerian Merchant Navy, and obtained by Elendu Reports, it called on the federal government to expedite actions to empower the force with patrol vans, rifles, speed boats, salaries and other operational equipment.
It also wants the government to upgrade the skills of the Merchant members and re-position them to better discharge their functions effectively in accordance with the law.
The letter recalled that in 1914, the Nigeria Merchant Navy Department of Marine and the Nigeria Customs Services were established and charged with the responsibilities of generating revenue (excise duties) for the Nigeria government.
It also recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari gave an approval for the operations of the New Maritime Security on April 20, 2017.
The letter reads in part: ”Our efforts does not limit only to combating activities of pirates also compliment governments effort to boost maritime trade and unlock the vast maritime potential of Africa to the world, convey goods and cargoes from one country seaports to another and sailing round the world protect the integrity of the country’s economic development because sea is the major route to convey resources to aid national development.”
It noted that the organization protect lives and properties within the riverine areas in all states with a view of eradicating youth restiveness by implementing and enforcing the Cabotage Act.
It continued: ‘’We have been working for over 13 years now without basic salary but we see it as a duty call to serve our fatherland, our organization has discovered the routes and hide out of kidnappers, smugglers and channels of importing illegal fire arms in Cross river, Benue, Kogi and River states. We are appealing to be equipped with patrol vans, flying boats, rifles, and other operational equipment and documents.
‘’On March 5, 2015, we the Nigeria Merchant Navy obtained a judgment of N10million against the Inspector General of Police, Police Service Commission and Commissioner of Police, Akwa Ibom State for illegal arresting, undue torture and destruction of properties belonging to the NMN and detention of its personnel by the Police by the Federal High Court with suit No: FHC/UY/CS/67/15 in favour of the Nigeria Merchant Navy.
‘’Presently we have our officers in all the coastal states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.’’