The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral, Ibok-Ete Ibas, has accused the Nigeria Police Force, NPF, of releasing suspects arrested for maritime crimes who are kept under their watch for investigations and prosecutions.
Ibas made this known to the acting Inspector General of Police, IGP, Ibrahim Idris, on Wednesday during a courtesy call in Abuja.
He complained that many of the suspects released by the police had gone back into the crimes for which they were originally arrested and as such, the police should diligently investigate and prosecute suspects handed over to them to stop them from returning to commit same maritime crimes.
Ibas said, “The navy has handed over to the police arrested persons who are involved in maritime crimes.
“We are hoping that most of the suspects that were handed over to police, that they would be prosecuted so as to serve as deterrent to would-be offenders.
“I want to observe areas where we have concerns. At some levels, we have had some instances where criminal cases which were handed over to the police have been muddled up, not properly handled, and at the end of the day, such criminals find their way back to the same operational areas where they were arrested.
“We want the suspects to be diligently prosecuted for a safer environment. Four of my men were kidnapped and we, on our own, rescued them and arrested the kidnappers, so we need to work together and collaborate in that area. If we are able to work closely, we can nip crime in the bud.
“There is no Standard Operating Procedure between the military and other security stakeholders and the Nigerian Navy is in the process of developing one,” Ibas added.
In his response, Idris said the Force was not in control of legal proceedings, but the judiciary, absolving the police of blame in the delay in prosecution of criminal cases.
The IGP however stated that the police and the navy must work together.
“The police would like to deploy more personnel in the Niger Delta for joint operations with naval personnel on their mobile flow stations,” he added.