In the light of the continuous herdsmen crisis in Benue and its neighbouring states, the Senate Committee on Defence has proposed the use of the Nigerian Navy Special Forces to stem the tide.
The committee led by the Chairman, Senator Isah Misau, made this proposal during an on-the-spot assessment of the units and bases under the Western and Naval Training Command in Lagos at the weekend.
If deployed, Misau said the special forces would use Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) in tackling the herdsmen crisis.
The special forces known as the Special Boat Services (SBS), are Nigeria’s equivalent of the Israeli and United States of America’s navy seals, who are trained to carry out the most delicate of operations.
The SBS although predominantly focused on littoral and riverine operations, are not restricted in carrying out other covert operations.
Already in their kitty is the fact that they are being attached to all troops and platoons carrying out operations in the North-east, especially when it deals with covert and overt operations.
Also, the SBS has progressed in teaching the Ghanaian forces, the Nigerian Army tactical warfare and even the Marine wing of the Nigerian Police, which it developed the Basic Maritime Officers Course (BMOC) for.
After watching the men in action and being briefed by SBS second-in-command, Commander M. A. Mohammed, the visibly impressed committee expressed their commitment in proposing for the incorporation of the force in tackling specialised operations like the herdsmen crisis.
During the briefing, the SBS said its core derivatives lies in ISR which entails intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance, which involves placing such large areas under constant monitoring to pick trends and patterns that will be analysed.
Speaking with THISDAY afterwards, Misau said: “We have spoken to the commander and the committee has collected some of the papers he brought from Jordan. We are interested in what he said.
“We were made to understand that if we have 30 of them in Benue, they can solve the problem of herdsmen crisis. We have solution for the Benue crisis in the navy.
“It’s not only the military, the naval special forces can solve a lot of problems. We will put it to the leadership of the Senate so that they can tell the president that the solution is at hand.
“We are having enormous challenges in the Niger Delta, Benue, Tarba, Plateau and Adamawa States but with the special forces, I think we can achieve so much.”
On the immediate recommendations of the committee, he said accommodation, welfare and acquiring platforms and equipment to fight maritime crimes.
Meanwhile, he said the Senate would hold a public hearing on the anti-piracy bill sponsored by Senators Nyako and Clifford Odia.
He said: “I will chair the public hearing in the next two weeks. We have done the first and second reading and it will take care of all the criminalities happening in the waterways.”
Earlier, while hosting the committee at the Western Naval Command, the Flag Officer Commanding, Rear Admiral Slyvanus Abbah, said some of the challenges facing the command include lack of prosecuting powers, insufficient platforms, tugs and berthing space.
He said: “Despite these challenges, we have recorded considerable progress in the fight against maritime crimes.
“In one instance, we recovered 100,000 jerrycans of 50 liters size used for illegal bunkering in creeks around Arepo, Ishawo and Elepete areas of Lagos and Ogun States.
“In Ilaje Village, Atlas Cove, we recovered 1,300 jerrycans of of 25 liters size of illegally siphoned premium motor spirit.”
Also, when the committee visited the Naval Training Command, the FOC, Rear Admiral Obi Ofodile, listed the achievements of the command, as well as their challenges.
On the importance of the training command, he said: “We impact knowledge for efficiency to perform our statutory roles optimally and our core mandate is local professional training for the NN personnel.
“We also coordinate and harmonise NN training programmes and doctrines but we are expanding so we still need accommodation and adequate infrastructure for our trainees and our training officers.”
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