Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas (27 September 1960)

Ibas: The Amphibious Fighter

Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, Nigeria’s number one amphibious fighter was born on  September 27, 1960. Currently, he is 22nd Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) of the Nigerian Navy. He was born in Nko, Cross River State, and was appointed to the position on July 13, 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Background and Education

According to Wikipedia, amphibious warfare is a type of offensive military operation that today uses naval ships to project ground and air power onto a hostile or potentially hostile shore at a designated landing beach. Through history the operations were conducted using ship’s boats as the primary method of delivering troops to shore.

Since the Gallipoli Campaign, the free encyclopedia continues, specialised watercraft were increasingly designed for landing troops, materiel and vehicles, including by landing craft and for insertion of commandos, by fast patrol boats, zodiacs (rigid inflatable boats) and from mini-submersibles. 

The term amphibious first emerged in the United Kingdom and the United States during the 1930s with introduction of vehicles such as Vickers-Carden-Loyd Light Amphibious Tank or the Landing Vehicle Tracked. For Wikipedia, amphibious warfare includes operations defined by their type, purpose, scale and means of execution.

In the British Empire at the time these were called combined operations which were defined as “…operations where naval, military or air forces in any combination are co-operating with each other, working independently under their respective commanders, but with a common strategic object.”[2] All armed forces that employ troops with special training and equipment for conducting landings from naval vessels to shore agree to this definition.

Since the 20th century an amphibious landing of troops on a beachhead is acknowledged as the most complex of all military maneuvers. The undertaking requires an intricate coordination of numerous military specialties, including air power, naval gunfire, naval transport, logistical planning, specialized equipment, land warfare, tactics, and extensive training in the nuances of this maneuver for all personnel involved.

Nigeria’s amphibious fighter began his primary education at Nko Primary School, in 1966 and completed at Big Qua Primary School, Calabar in 1971. He thereafter proceeded to the prestigious Hope Waddell Training Institute, Calabar from 1972 to 1976. Between 1977 and 1979, he attended the School of Basic Studies Ogoja before proceeding to the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA) in 1979 and got enlisted as a member of 26 Regular Course on June 20,1979. He was commissioned Sub-Lieutenant on January1, 1983.

Courses

Ibas has attended several military courses at home and abroad, including the Sub-Lieutenant Technical Course at INS Venduruthy in India from April 1983 to May 1984 and Primary Pilot Training at the 301 Primary Flying Training School at Nigerian Air Force Base in Kaduna from April 1986 to October 1987. He proceeded to the Command and Staff College, Jaji, Kaduna in January 1990 and completed the Junior Staff Course in June of the same year. In July 1992, he reported at the Amphibious Warfare School of the United States Marine Corps University in Quantico, Virginia, US, and graduated with a diploma in amphibious warfare in May 1993.

In February 1994, he commenced the Officers’ Long Course specialising in underwater warfare at the Underwater Warfare School, NNS Quorra and completed same in February 1995. From August 1996 to July 1997, he returned to the prestigious Armed Forces Command and Staff College Jaji, where he completed the Senior Staff Course with excellent grades. He is also an alumnus of the National Defence College, Islamabad, Pakistan, having attended the National Defence Course from August 2005 to June 2006. In addition he holds a master’s degree in defence and strategic studies from Quaid-I-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Career

Ibas has held several appointments in the Nigerian Navy. As a midshipman, he served on board NNS RuwanYaro, NNS Obuma and NNS Aradu. He later served on board NNS Ayam and NNS Ekpe as a watch keeping officer after he was commissioned sub- lieutenant. He was to later become the executive officer of NNS Siri, NNS Ekun and NNS Ambe between July 1993 and August 1996 as a lieutenant commander. He was the commanding officer of the Nigerian Navy Underwater Warfare School from August 1997 to September 1998 and thereafter, the commanding officer of the Forward Operating Base Ibaka from September 1998 to June 2000.

Due to his outstanding performance on the Senior Staff Course, he was appointed as a directing staff at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji from June 2000 to June 2002. He later returned to the college in January 2009 as the director of the Department of Maritime Warfare, a position he held until November 2010. His last sojourn in the college was as deputy commandant from January to February 2014.

Ibas was the naval provost marshal from April 2003 to June 2004 and was later the principal staff officer to the then CNS from June 2004 to July 2005. He was the command operations officer at the Headquarters Western Naval Command, Lagos, from June to December 2006, and from December 2006 to January 2009, he was the commander of the Naval Air Base, Ojo.

The senior officer was later appointed chief staff officer at headquarters, Naval Training Command, Lagos, from September 2010 to March 2011. In recognition of his versatility in staff duties and administration, the senior officer was appointed to the Naval Headquarters first, as the chief of administration from March 2011 to February 2012 and later as the Navy Secretary from February 2012 to January 2013. Thereafter, he became the flag officer commanding Western Naval Command from January 2013 to January 2014. He was appointed chief of logistics in February 2014 and then the GMD/CEO of Nigerian Navy Holdings Limited in December of the same year. This was the appointment he held until he was appointed the 20th chief of the Naval Staff on 13 July 2015.

Navy at 64 under Ibas

Over the years, the navy has grown from a mere marine department to a fighting force that is capable of withstanding external and internal threats to Nigeria’s territorial integrity. This year, exactly on this day, the navy marked its 64th anniversary.

On assumption of office in 2015, the CNS placed a high premium on operational availability of ships, training and motivation of personnel. In fulfillment of the operational availability of ships, with the help of the federal government, the navy has taken delivery of numerous ships including recent acquisitions of Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), Seaward Defence Boats, patrol crafts and training ships as well as helicopter. The NN parades crops of professionally competent personnel, who are given qualitative training, both locally and abroad on regular basis. The NN personnel undergo professional military education and most of the courses being run at the training schools and colleges, are given requisite accreditation for improved performance of the under training officers and ratings.

Additionally, the NN training schools are being affiliated with tertiary institutions and relevant professional schools as well as bodies in the Country. The NN also benchmarks training in line with international best practices for the enhanced maintenance and operations of the Fleet. These have assisted in no small measure, the building of further capacity and human resource development.

As regards manpower generation, the NN in the last five years, commissioned a total of 944 officers and enlisted 7,465 ratings. Currently, 1,226, who have completed basic training are scheduled to join the Fleet shortly while another set comprising 1,250 trainees, will commence training at the NN Basic Training School, thereafter.

Furthermore, the NN has equally reinvigorated its welfare programmes to further motivate personnel. The development and welfare of NN personnel is a core aspect of NN administration. Overtime, the NN has sustained existing efforts and also put in place new schemes to improve personnel welfare. Some of the NN welfare schools have also been rehabilitated, with new schools being built at both primary and post primary levels.

Also, the NN has set up various loan schemes to assist personnel achieve their personal goals. These include the Nigerian Navy Microfinance Bank, Nigerian Navy Multipurpose Cooperative Society, Navy Exchange and Welfare Loan amongst others. For housing of personnel, construction of barracks accommodation and renovation works are ongoing in all naval establishments, adding that all these have enhanced productivity with resultant improved operational efficiency of the NN.

In terms of operational achievements, the NN over the years has been focused on capacity development in order to improve maritime security in Nigerian waters, and the Gulf of Guinea (GoG). The maritime threats that have significant effects in Nigeria’s maritime environment are piracy/sea robbery, crude oil theft, illegal oil bunkering, smuggling, Illegal Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUUF), insurgency, hostage taking, human and drug trafficking.

In order to combat these threats, the NN adopted the Total Spectrum Maritime Strategy (TSMS) to guide its operational engagements. The strategy is based on a proactive layered response to 5 conflict spectrums characterized by distances to and from the coast. Within the last five years, the NN conducted and also participated in over 60 exercises and operations. Pertinently, 35 major exercises and operations were game changers.

Some of the game changers are Ex TSARE TEKU, Ex EAGLE EYE, Op RIVER SWEEP, Op CALM WATERS and Op SWIFT RESPONSE geared towards combating illicit activities in Nigeria’s territorial waters especially the back waters. Some combined Exercises such as Ex OBANGAME EXPRESS, Ex NEMO and Op JUNCTION RAIN were conducted in collaboration with regional and international navies and other maritime stakeholders for the good governance, law and order in the GoG.

Furthermore, 11 River Town Class boats were acquired. Out of these, seven have been inducted into the NN fleet namely NNS NGURU, SHIRORO, EKULU, OSE, GONGOLA, CALABAR and OSUN, while four more are programmed to join the fleet later this year. Additionally, in the last five years, the NN also invested in local content development through the local construction of Seaward Defence Boats (SDB). The second locally built SDB, NNS KARADUWA was commissioned in 2016 while her sister ship, a third locally built SDB is programmed to join the service this year.

In an effort to boost operations, 12 Manta Class boats and Inshore Patrol Craft were acquired and will be inducted into the fleet, this year. For riverine operations, the service took delivery of 148 River Patrol boats, with another 24 expected in the later part of 2020. Thirty six Rigid Inflatable Boats were also procured, with another batch of 56 programmed for delivery in 2020 ending.

The renewed emphasis on fleet renewal under the able leadership of Vice Admiral IE Ibas was further underscored with the acquisition of three Whaler boats that are also expected to join the fleet this year. Other acquisitions under this ambitious fleet renewal effort are the acquisition and deployment of 11 houseboats for the Choke Point Management and Control operations. One houseboat is also expected to be deployed in 2020. One tug boat has been inducted into the service while two others are expected to join the fleet   in 2020. Similarly, one water barge and one fuel barge are expected in 2020. The NN equally committed enormous resources to equipment availability to support its operations.

Accordingly, the navy took delivery of a total of 168 outboard engines with requisite spares. As part of the Ministry of Defence’s critical intervention, it has taken delivery of one Leonardo AW139 helicopter and is currently being inducted. In support of government’s policy on local content, the NN engaged local companies such as Messrs.Epenal, TUWASCO, HABTOB and Sewa to build platforms for the Service. This has not only enhanced local content development but facilitated capacity building in Nigeria’s maritime industry.”

The NN also recorded successes in anti-COT and illegally sourced petroleum product which has reduced illegal oil dealings within the Nigerian maritime environment from 2017-2019.In 2017, the NN denied criminal oil entrepreneurs dealing on illegal oil about 218,057 barrels of crude oil valued at about N3,724,413,560 and 60,553,415 litres of AGO valued at N11,807,915,925. Similarly, in 2018, illegal oil dealings of about 295,028 barrels of crude oil valued at about N5,039,078,240 and 23,991,325 litres of AGO valued at N4,678,308,375 were denied the criminal oil entrepreneurs by the NN.

In the same vein, in 2019, the NN denied criminal oil entrepreneurs dealing on illegal oil 296,192 barrels of crude oil valued at about N5,058,959,360 and 42,729,530 litres of AGO valued at N8,332,258,350. It is evident that the number of barrels and litres of crude oil and AGO denied the criminal oil entrepreneurs by the NN increased from 2017-2019. This could be attributed to the increased effort of the Ops Bases and TOPs Branch sensitization and directives to all Bases on zero tolerance to COT and illegal bunkering activities.

“The reduction in the number of illegal refineries located since 2018 is attributable to the success of Op RIVER SWEEP, which resulted in the impounding of approximately 9,406,810 barrels of crude oil, 130,517,570 litres of AGO, 897,475 litres of PMS and 3,407,500 litres of DPK from 2017 to 20 May 2020. 

The NN has 24Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) Centres located across the Nigerian coastline. Due to their availability, NN patrols are now more mission oriented with attendant reduction in operational logistic costs. The infrastructure has been instrumental in several rescue operations. The NN recognizes the centrality of collaboration with other maritime nations and international maritime agencies for successful maritime security operations. Accordingly, it holds regular international conferences and sea exercises with navies of other nations and major maritime stakeholders for the purpose of capacity building, intelligence and information sharing.

For instance, the NN successfully hosted International Maritime Conference and Regional Maritime Exercise in 2016 and 2018 and would have hosted the 2020 edition but for the COVID-19 Pandemic. These have led to shared responsibilities with improved international and regional cooperation and synergy of efforts in tackling the myriad of challenges in Nigerian maritime environment. A critical achievement in terms of collaboration during the period under review is the operationalisation of the Harmonized Standard Operating Procedure (HSOP) on Arrest, Detention and Prosecution of Vessels and Persons in Nigeria’s Maritime Environment.

Finally, the NN also recently recorded another operational milestone as the second indigenous navigational chart of some parts of Nigerian waters was produced by the Nigerian Navy Hydrographic Office (NNHO). The new chart covers parts of Badagry Creek, from Ogunkobo, through Navy Town and Mile 2 to Tin-Can Island in Lagos waters.  Work on the chart started in 2019.  With the completion of the chart, the NNHO has commenced work on its electronic version which will be forwarded to the International Centre for Electronic Navigational Charts for validation and release. Although these operations have contributed in enhancing maritime security with significant economic gains, it is imperative to sustain and possibly improve the level of security in order to optimize the potentials in the nation’s maritime domain.

Awards, Decorations

In the course of his distinguished service, Vice Admiral Ibas has earned several prestigious awards, including the Silver Jubilee Medal, ECOMOG Medal, Forces Service Star, Meritorious Service Star, Distinguished Service Star and the General Service Star. Others are the Passed Staff Course (DAGGER) and a Fellow of the NDC.

He holds the membership of several reputable professional organizations, such as the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) and the Nigerian Institute of Management. Ibas has also attended some seminars and exhibitions at home and abroad. He attended the 25th International Homeland Security Exhibition and the 3rd International Exhibition for Operational Units in Tel Aviv, Israel, in June 2011. In August 2012, he also attended the London International Leadership Course in London, England. He was in United States of America in January 2013 for a capacity development course at Harvard Kennedy School, thus making him an alumnus of the Harvard Kennedy School in the US. He was at Naval Dockyard, Lagos in February 2013 to attend a naval engineering and logistics seminar.

Marital Status:

Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, who enjoys reading, watching documentaries and playing golf, is married to Mrs. Theresa Ibas. The marriage is blessed with children.