The Nigerian Navy came from the old Nigerian Marines as a Seaward Defense Force. Nigeria has some special forces, and of particular note are the "Nigerian Marines". But this formation is very poorly attested, and seems to consist of some sort of riverine and maritime security force, rather than a conventional amphibious assault force along the lines of the United States Marine Corps.
The Nigerian Navy owes its origin to the Nigerian Marine. Formed in 1914 after the amalgamation of the then Northern and Southern protectorates of Nigeria, the Nigerian Marine as it became known after 1914 was a quasi-military organization. Its origin lay with the Lagos Marines, which was first established in 1887 by the British Colonial Government. This Force later expanded to become the Southern Nigerian Marine in 1893. A Northern Nigeria equivalent of the same name was formed in 1900. The 2 Marines were merged in 1914 after Nigeria came under a single colonial administration. The responsibility of the Marine included administration of the ports and harbours, dredging of channels, bouyage and lighting. It also operated ferry services, touring launches and other small craft that plied the various creeks and other inland waterways.
On May 25th 1998 some two hundred unarmed Nigerian youths, occupied one of Chevron Texaco’s off-shore oil platforms. Thy pledged to hold the platform until Chevron acquiesced to their demands: provide local villages with potable water, electricity, environmental reparations, as well as employment and scholarships for young people. Chevron officials agreed to the demands and promised to send an envoy out on a helicopter to finalize the agreements. Instead, members of the Nigerian paramilitary Mobile Police force, known locally as the “Kill 'n' Go," and Nigerian marines boarded the Chevron helicopters. Shortly after the helicopters landed, two of activists were shot. Chevron contended the youths were killed after they attempted to disarm the Nigerian troops, but forensic evidence suggests the two activists were shot in the back.
Edward N. Luttwak noted in 1999 that "Multinational commands ... find it difficult to control the quality and conduct of member states’ troops, which can reduce the performance of all forces involved to the lowest common denominator. This was true of otherwise fine British troops in Bosnia and of the Nigerian marines in Sierra Leone."
In June 2006 Nigerian security services established contact with the kidnappers of two Filipino oil workers taken hostage in the Niger Delta. A spokesman for the Nigerian marines, Captain Obiora Medani, said simply: "Security has an idea of who may be behind the kidnapping", without giving further comment. Four Nigerian marines, including an officer, were killed and three others wounded in an attack on a Chevron convoy in the southern Delta state, Chevron and local military authorities said 17 July 2006. The attack against the convoy was led by heavily armed men on board about 20 small boats.
In November 2006 Nigerian officials say a foreign oil worker was killed as the Nigerian military attempted to free seven workers taken hostage. The officials say the other six hostages were freed in the operation, though at least one worker was wounded. They say two of the kidnappers were also killed. The ship is operated by a subsidiary of the Italian company Eni. Eni confirmed the rescue operation, saying the deceased worker died as the militants exchanged gunfire with Nigerian marines.
In a separate incident in November 2008, at one point it was reported that a Cameroonian had been killed after Nigerian marines attacked in an attempt to liberate 10 hostages. But it turned out this was an effort to manipulate the media in a bid to discredit the movements operating in the Niger Delta - there was no attack. According to the French language daily Mutations of 6 November 2008, "a French hostage and a Cameroonian soldier lost their lives in a rescue attempt launched by the Cameroonian Army. Le Jour, another French language daily reporting the same event, claims the attack was led by Nigerian soldiers. This report quoted an undisclosed source in the Nigerian diplomatic mission in Yaounde to the effect that a squad of Nigerian Marines from Calabar had attempted to release the captives.
Nigeria remains a breeding ground for piracy. Compared to Somalia, West African pirates are less organised and sometimes politically motivated, but it’s still a problem; 11 ships were hijacked in 2010. But, according to the experience of retired Dutch captain Jaap Stengs, having military personnel on board is an effective solution, whether they’re Dutch or not. In January 2011 Stengs noted that “I was hauling oil equipment, and got a platoon of Nigerian Marines assigned to my ship. They caught one guy that was trying to steal cargo. We handed the suspect over to local law enforcement; I really appreciated the cooperation with the Nigerians."
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