The Nigerian Navy, on Monday, took delivery of four ballistics gunboats to fight Niger Delta oil thieves.

The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Leo Irabor, said at the induction of the gunboats that the four gunboats were built by the Naval Shipyard Limited (NSL), Port Harcourt.

According to him, the new platforms will provide the needed protection for troops patrolling the nation’s maritime environment to prevent internal and external threats.

“Unarguably, Nigeria’s maritime environment is a reservoir of natural resources, including oil and gas that constitute the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy,” stated Mr Irabor. “So, the protection of these resources is a priority for the federal government to sustain socio-economic activities and enhancement of peace and stability of the Niger Delta. At the core of our commitment is the provision of adequate logistics support to our troops deployed in the region and across the country.”

Mr Irabor further noted that the inauguration of the gunboats, built locally, reaffirmed the resolve of the armed forces to rid the nation’s maritime space of criminals.

“So, this goes as a warning to all recalcitrant elements posing threats to peace and security of our maritime space that we are taking the war to them,” said the service chief. “The Defence Headquarters shall not relent in providing the needed resources to Operation Delta Safe, to ensure the security of the Niger Delta.”

The defence chief disclosed that the headquarters had concluded plans to develop its Military Industrial Complex capability to meet local defence needs, stressing that the decision informed why the military body awarded the construction of the ballistic gunboats to the NSL.

“We took this decision to wean our country off over-dependence on foreign military technology, boost our local technology base, and conserve foreign exchange. I want to see an Armed Forces of Nigeria that is capable of sustaining itself to a reasonable extent in terms of military hardware for land, maritime, and even air operations,” he said.

Mr Irabor added that the defence headquarters would soon award another five units of armoured gunboats to the shipyard to boost local production and improve naval presence at the waterways.

Taking delivery of the gunboats, the Chief of Naval Staff, Awwal Gambo, said the NSL had the requisite manpower and expertise to construct ships, boats, barges, and houseboats, among others.

“So, the construction of these semi ballistic gunboats is yet another milestone achievement by the NSL in the provision of necessary support to the ongoing efforts at combating maritime threats,” Mr Gambo stated. “The gunboats will bolster the operational capacity of the Joint Task Force SS Operation Delta Safe in the Niger Delta area.”

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