By Frank Oshanugor
No fewer than one hundred and seven young men and women undergoing military training in an illegally operated naval academy in Lagos have been arrested along with one of their Commanding officers.
In what looked like a sting operation to stem the tide of possible actualisation of terrorism related training, operatives of the Lagos State Police Command on Wednesday morning raided the illegal training camp of the Merchant Navy located in Ogudu Sandfield area.
Addressing newsmen on Wednesday evening, Lagos State Police Commissioner, Hakeem Odumosun said the training camp was raided at about 1100 hours same day during which the Commanding Officer identified as Sunday Dakare (47 years old) and 107 suspected trainees were arrested.
According to Odumosun, the arrest was sequel to what he called “credible actionable intelligence on the illegal activities of the Merchant Navy” which he said was outlawed by the Federal Government in 2017.
During the operation which was coordinated by the Operations Department of the Command, several military accoutrements were recovered. These included camouflage, badges of ranks, flag, sign board, ID cards.  Other things included  recruitment letters, promotion letters, portrait of the Commanding Officer, two motor cycles, one plasma television, three cutlasses, criminal charms and other things.
The police boss told newsmen that “in the course of interrogation, it was discovered that the Nigerian Merchant Navy also called the Coastal Defective Force has been operating illegally since 2005.”
“Recall that the Nigerian Merchant Navy has since been outlawed by the Federal Government hence it is illegal for anyone to operate such a military  outfit giving military training to unsuspecting young Nigerians.”
In the police Commissioner’s words; “this trend portends danger for our nation and a threat to peace and security. It therefore behoves on us as a law enforcement agency to enforce such law banning activities of the illegal military outfit.”
Odumosun has also warned other individuals or groups still operating such illegal outfit in any part of the State to close it forthwith as anyone caught, would be made to face prosecution.
Answering a question about the existence of terrorists cells in Lagos, the Commissioner assured that his Command was equal to the task and prepared to crush any such group. He advised terrorist elements not to come near the state as there would be no hiding place for them.
The arrested trainees some of whom were wearing Navy  uniforms and military camouflage while being paraded by the police have been taken into custody.  The police boss said they were still being investigated after which they may be arraigned in court.
The Commanding Officer, Sunday Dakare who was briefly interviewed by journalists insisted he has not done anything wrong alleging that Ministry of Defense gave him and his collaborators at large, the approval to operate while waiting for the passage of a Bill seeking to give statutory backing to the existence of the Academy.

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