Illegal Maritime Association

The Nigerian Navy has discovered an organisation training Nigerian youths on military activities and rescue operations illegally. The group, known as Merchant Maritime Transport Safety Association, had trained over 200 youths with the promise of employment in the Military and Marine sectors.

Navy Clamps Down On Illegal Maritime Association
BY EVELYN USMAN, All Africa

THE Nigerian Navy has clamped down on a group of persons discovered to be training Nigerian youths on military activities and rescue operations illegally. Already, the group known as Merchant Maritime Transport Safety Association, according to the Navy, had trained over 200 youths, with a promise to engage them in the Military and Marine sectors.

But the bubble burst, Monday, following discovery by the Nigerian Navy that the group’s operation was illegal, as it was infringing on the constitutional roles of the Nigerian Navy, Marine Police, NIMASA, Customs and other government maritime agencies.

They were also discovered to have swindled unsuspecting members of the public to the tune of N14 million, an amount realized from the sale of recruitment forms.

Suspected members of the group: Parading four suspected members of the group before newsmen, the Western Naval Command Operation Officer, Commodore Henry Babalola, disclosed that the group was also using similar logo with that of the Nigerian Navy, a development he described as ‘worrisome’, considering the security situation of the country.

For instance, Babalola noted that while the Nigerian Navy had “Onward Together’ as its motto, the group, had ‘Onward Forever’ as its own, an indication which he said, was to give unsuspecting members of the public the impression that the group was affiliated to the Navy.

The cat was let out of the bag following a disagreement between members of the group over the sharing formula of the N14million realized from the sale of forms thereby leading to the splitting of the group.

Explaining how they were arrested, Babalola said: “the group was to commence sales of another set of forms at N5,000 each. They were detained when they wrote a letter to the Nigerian Navy for support. The association, though registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission, is a dubious association seeking relevance in the nation’s maritime sector.

The association has no relationship or approval from NIMASA which they claimed they were to help collect fund or other maritime agencies, to undertake the task/duties the organization claims to be discharging or intends to undertake.

Babalola said: “More worrisome is the fact that the association has been training unsuspecting members of the public on Maritime Safety and Security duties with the promise of job opportunities. Therefore, in view of the prevailing security situation in the country coupled with the menace of sea robbers and other criminal elements in the nation’s maritime environment, there is urgent need for the CAC to de-register the association.”

One of the suspects who gave his name as Godwin Awuku, also identified himself as leader of the new faction of the group, saying that he was not aware that the act was illegal. According to the 38 year-old Bayelsa born and graduate of Maritime University of Ghana, “I am into marine transport.

We wrote a letter to introduce the organization to the Nigerian Navy for recruitment and transport. We are into transport, security and our aim is to support government agencies for marine transport. We have an agenda to help NIMASA. We have a base at Erewe in Ojo local government area of Lagos.”

On the illegal training and recruitment, he said: “The first chairman, one Simeon Omofuwa and the vice president, Ogundipe, were involved in the training. The aim was to train the youths for marine related work. But along the line, things turned apart because of the way they were running it.

For instance, the money realized was swindled by these persons. Trouble started when they were selling the forms and collecting cash from applicants and when we demanded for the money, they could not give account. Already, we have reported the case at Ojo police station and even the EFCC.

“Their action led to the splitting of the group, with majority leaving with the chairman and vice chairman, leaving me and three others. I brought the idea after attending an International Shipping and vessel course in Ghana.”

Asked if those trained would at the end be enlisted into any of the military or maritime formations they promised them, he simply maintained that they were only trained on Safety and Sea surviving, adding that the training was not on weapon handling. “I never knew the action was illegal. But that is left to the court to decide”, he stated.

Source: All Africa

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