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Our operations drastically reduced crimes at sea, oil theft- Rear Admiral Gbassa

…Completes tenure as 40th FOC Western Naval Command

Rear Admiral Jason Gbassa, on Tuesday said that operations of the Command under his watch in the last one year as the 40th Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, recorded impressive results as pirate attacks, sea robbery and other criminal activities such as oil theft, were remarkably reduced.

Gbassa spoke on the occasion of his handing over of office to Rear Admiral Yakubu Wambai, the new Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, as he(Gbassa) moves to Abuja in his new posting as the Chief of Administration, Naval Headquarters.

Out-going FOC West, Rear Admiral Jason Gbassa, his wife, and the In-coming FOC, Rear Admiral Yakubu Wambai in a group photograph with members of the Naval Officers’ Wives Association.

The incoming FOC, Wambai,  pledged to build on what his predecessor has done to ensure continuity in excellence, which the Command is known for.

He sought the support of the officers and men, just as they supported Gbassa, and promised to uphold professionalism and teamwork.

L-R: Maj. Gen. AR Owolabi, Rear Admiral Yakubu Wambai, Rear Admiral Jason Gbassa and Air Vice Marshall IG Lubo during the handing and taking over ceremonies at HQ WNC

Speaking, Gbassa appreciated the opportunity given him to serve in that capacity and considered the occasion a time to be thankful to have achieved the feat recorded.

He said: “ With the help of the officers and men of the Nigerian Navy made available to me, we were able to cover some grounds that it is said today of our nation that the scourge of piracy and sea robbery throughout  the year 2021 reduced drastically.

“This is in addition to the second cap I wear as the Force Commander of the Joint Task Force South West, Operation AWATSE, where we recorded tremendous successes as we curtailed activities of pipeline vandals and general insecurity within the south west region.

“So, I see today as a day of thanksgiving, to be grateful to God for the wonderful opportunity I had to command the Premier Command of the Nigerian Navy. I see it a day to give thanks to President Muhammadu Buhari, to the Chief of General Staff, General Lucky Irabor, to the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, for giving me this opportunity which is the dream of every regular officer; to hold Commands.”

He spoke about some of the operational exercises to ensure security of the maritime domain security as well as other operations that curtailed criminalities such as drug trafficking.

“The Western Naval Command under my watch, initiated series of operations to combat the menace of piracy, illegal oil bunkering, drug trafficking and other related crimes within the Command’s area of responsibility.

“We conducted EX OMI MIMO (CLEAR WATER) to enhance the security of the Command’s maritime domain, EX OLUSO, a harbour defence exercise aimed at working up the ships and Operation OKUN ALAFIA to consolidate the gains of enhanced security in the Nations Maritime Environment and maintain credible presence at sea with over 7,000 hours of patrols amongst others.

“We successfully hosted 11 foreign naval ships from countries like the United Kingdom, United State of America, France, Brazil, Spain, Portugal amongst others. We conducted several joint/combined exercises to enhance the operational capabilities of our men.

“Cumulatively, these efforts resulted in the Command recording the lowest number of incidences of pirate attacks and sea robbery in the last 28 years and by extension, the Nigerian Maritime Domain and the Gulf of Guinea in general as attested to by the International Maritime Bureau Report   of 2021,” Gbassa said.

The Command, under his watch, arrested MV CHAYENEE NAREE and MT KARTERIA that were conveying cocaine from Brazil to Nigeria, and thereby effectively disrupted the international illegal trade on the route.

Also, working in partnership with the Nigerian Port Authority, the Command “midwifed the transition from the Secured Anchorage Area to the Lagos Anchorage Area in compliance with a Federal Government directive aimed at enhancing the Ease of Doing Business in our Country,” Gbassa added.

Under the JTF SW Op AWATSE, Gbassa’s team recorded successes disrupting activities of various notorious pipeline vandals as they conducted a total of 1,126 patrols leading to the arrest of 74 persons. They seized 178,650 litres of stolen Premium Motor Spirit which were decanted to NNPC storage facility and 29 vehicles and other equipment valued at over N500 million.

Gbassa said: “Majority of the seized vehicles have been handed over to the NSCDC in line with the Standard Operating Procedure, for prosecution.”

While welfare of personnel and their families enjoyed priority attention, the Command initiated projects to improve working and living conditions as barracks, office spaces and messes were promptly renovated.

He also talked about improvement of the Nigerian Navy Welfare Schools under the Command. During the period, they paid attention to improving civil military cooperation and were able to give back to society through corporate social responsibility, in school renovation and medical outreaches to communities in Ajegunle and Ojo areas of Lagos State.

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