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“We’ll Defend Our Territorial Waters To The Hilt”-– Defence Minister
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Audio Attachment:Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. Joseph Henry Smith, assured the public that, by the time the country starts the production of oil in commercial quantities, the Navy will be ready to defend Ghana's coast line.

Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. Joseph Henry Smith.
The Minister of Defence, Lt. Gen. Joseph Henry Smith, has assured the general public that, by the time the country starts the production of oil in commercial quantities, the Navy will be ready to defend our coast line.

“I want to assure you that, we are very prepared, our vessels are at sea, 24 hours, we are making efforts to bring in new vessels and re-mapping the whole of the Coastal lines of Ghana, 350 miles coastal line and I want to assure the Ghanaian public that by the time we start production we are ready to defend our coast line,” he said on PEACEFM’s “Kokrokoo”.

The Defence Minister was responding to a question on the preparedness of the nation’s navy in the light of rampant sea piracy and the report that a Nigerian Vessel had been impounded by Ghana over the weekend after being hijacked by sailors at sea.

The vessel, christened the “African Prince”, is currently docked at the Tema port.

“Last week we had a request from the Nigerian Authorities that a vessel had been hijacked and it was heading towards the Benin – Togo waters, so we alerted our Navy, though the navy was already at sea patrolling our territorial waters. When the vessel entered our territorial waters, it was intercepted by the Navy and brought to the port in Tema…Over the weekend the Nigerian authorities requested from its Ghanaian counterparts whether the vessel could be released to them and they decided that, they decided to send two other vessels to come and escort the detained vessel back to Nigeria,” he revealed.

According to Lt Gen Smith, a team of investigators from the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), Navy and the National Security Coordinators office went on board to conduct a thorough search and begin investigations. He further disclosed that the investigators had submitted their interim report on the incident; which will subsequently be handed over to the National Security Council.

“When a decision is taken, we will take the necessary steps to arrange with Nigeria’s High Commissioner here (Ghana), to take over the vessel by handing it over to their authorities in Nigeria…,” he added.

“Contents of Vessel”

An oil vessel on the high seas.
Touching on the contents of the vessel, the Defence Minister stated that the refined fuel on board the vessel was hijacked from Nigeria, but could not be readily established whether Ghana was its final destination.

“We are informed that, that vessel picks up fuel from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) and distributes it internally within Nigeria, but on this particular day, when it had taken 5,000 metric tonnes of refined fuel ready to top up with another 3,000 metric tonnes, eleven men got on board and hijacked the vessel…the hijackers made efforts to sell the vessel at sea but that didn’t work out and that is how they sailed into Ghana’s territorial waters,” he narrated to Peace Fm.

One person, the Chief Cook, was found dead on board while the rest of the crew, 22 Nigerians and 6 expatriates, are assisting with investigations.

“I understand the Chief Cook died of shock,” the Defence Minister added.
Source: Alex Ofei/Peacefmonline/Ghana

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