I didn’t know that parading myself as naval officer was criminal, says man arrested by Navy

A fake officer of the Nigerian Navy was, on Thursday, in Warri, Delta State, paraded before journalists for impersonation.

The impersonator, Mr Ushi Prince Moses Okeimutie, was caught with 10 identity cards, a camouflage uniform, a pistol, a horsewhip, seven photographs and five portraits where he adorned himself in naval uniforms and paraphernalia.

Other items included a mobile phone and a signboard with the inscription: “Military Zone, No loitering, No parking, keep off!” with which he was deceiving the people.

Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS DELTA), Warri Naval Base, Commodore Joseph Dzunwe, who assumed office a few weeks ago, said the impersonator had defrauded several unsuspecting Nigerians before his arrest recently.

The naval boss said at times, the suspect would appear as an officer of the navy and at other times, as a naval rating, depending on who he wanted to defraud.

The suspect, who is in his 50s, did not argue when he was asked to narrate his side of the story. He simply said he was arrested in his home for parading himself as a naval personnel and that he started the fraudulent practice about seven months ago.

“Truly, impersonating is embarrassing. It has not been long that I started the business. Actually, I was ignorant of the fact that my action was criminal. I have been in the business for about seven months,” he disclosed.

Ushi added that he was not really pushed into the crime by joblessness or any other societal factor.

Speaking further on the suspect, Commodore Dzunwe said: “He is an impersonator. He has been impersonating the navy and we recovered items from his house.

“He has taken pictures in various military uniforms and there was a report that he used them to intimidate and extort from members of the public.

“In one of the pictures, he is a lieutenant in the navy; in another one, he’s a sub-lieutenant, and yet in another, he is a rating.”

The naval boss promised to hand over the suspect to the Nigeria Police for further investigations and possible prosecution.

Meanwhile, five other suspects were paraded for offences ranging from involvement in illegal oil bunkering, pipeline vandalism, murder of a naval rating to kidnapping.

The five suspects, two of whom were identified as Obis Maladu, Amogonobo, were arrested within a week during a five-day raid on illegal refinery in Warri North and Warri South West local government areas of the state.

About five boats used for transporting illegal petroleum products were seized, and the suspects confessed to being involved in illegal refineries and trading of the product.

Commodore Dzunwe expressed worries over how criminals always return to burnt refinery sites, describing the terrain of the creeks as a challenge to his men.

He, however, promised that his men would continue to checkmate criminal activities as regards economic sabotage until the war is eventually won.