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Navy to deploy troops on waterways, coastal areas to check violence

By Ann Godwin, Port Harcourt
09 February 2015   |   9:22 pm
THE Nigerian Navy has said it would deploy troops on waterways and to coastal communities to subvert any form of ballot box snatching and violence during and after the elections.     The new Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Henry Babalola, said in Port Harcourt that the deployment would be at…

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THE Nigerian Navy has said it would deploy troops on waterways and to coastal communities to subvert any form of ballot box snatching and violence during and after the elections.  

  The new Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Eastern Naval Command, Rear Admiral Henry Babalola, said in Port Harcourt that the deployment would be at the request of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

  Babalola said the Navy was willing to provide security for INEC officers, election materials and voters, but would do so within “the dictates of standard operating procedures guarding military operations.”

   While addressing officers and ratings, Babalola said: “We will standby to assist INEC to provide security to transport electoral materials to riverine areas when called upon.

  “We will standby to create an enabling environment that will allow voters to lawfully and legally come out to cast their votes.

  “Subverting electoral process starts from when thugs import arms and ammunition to cause problems, and so, we are deploying one helicopter to join the naval flying unit here, and patrol-boats to ward off ships bearing arms to come and arm the militants.

  “It is a trying moment for our nation, and so, the idea is that at the end of the day, we will be on top of the game to create a conducive atmosphere for the election to take place.”

  He said the Navy remained non-partisan and would severely punish any of its personnel who consciously joined in political campaigns to influence outcome of the elections.

  The Naval Command officer said the Navy would soon take delivery of three warships, which would enhance its fight against oil theft and piracy at the nation’s territorial waters.

  According to him: “Very shortly, the Commander in Chief (of the armed forces) and the Chief of Naval Staff will be commissioning three additions to the Nigerian Navy fleet – and they are very big ships.

  “We have the offshore patrol Centenary vessel from China assigned to the (nation’s) eastern fleet; the NNS Opabana – an ex-United States (U.S.) Coast Guard ship, and another training ship, NNS Prosperity.

  “Again, on the smaller scale, we are purchasing new boats; and we have just been assigned two-new K-13 (gun) boats with a view to adding more bite to our war on crude oil theft and other illegalities in our maritime environment.”