By Stephen Ubanna
Barely one month to the exit of Donald Trump, from office as the President of the North American county of the United States , US, he may have joined Kitack Lim, the Secretary General, of the International Maritime Organisation, IMO, to encourage Ibok Ekwe-Ibas, a Vice Admiral and Chief of Naval Staff,, CNS, and Bashir Jamoh, the Director General, Nigerian Mariime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, to sustain the anti- Piracy war in the country’s maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea, Popular, GoG.
Trump ,the US President who was said to have been approached several times by President Muhammadu Buhari, to support the Nigerian government with the provision of modern anti-piracy equipment to contain piracy and other criminalities in the GoG, particular, may have approved the supply of some anti-piracy equipment to Nigeria recently to support the anti-piracy war in the region to avoid giving the credit to Joe Biden, the Democratic Party elected President of the US, who is expected to assume office next January.
On Friday, December 11, 2020, the US maritime security equipment worth over $180,000 was said to have been delivered to the Navy to further boost the country’s anti-piracy war and the nautical maritime awareness Capability, NMAC.The donation, according to a report by Channels Television, comprises a selection of best in-class sensors and radars, Communications and networking equipment, thermal managing cameras and software, which have been integrated to improve the Ekwe’s men capacity’’ to track and counter the marine threats’’
. Claire Pierangelo, the US Consul General , who was said to have handed over the maritime security equipment to the Commander of the Naval Station Beecroft, in Lagos, had assured that the US government would’’ continue to support it maritime security efforts towards securing not only its maritime domain but the GoG’’.
Naval sources informed The Value News that the shipment of the equipment was part of the Regional Maritime Awareness Capability, RMAC, that had started since 2006, during the Administration of Barrack Obama, the then President of the US. It was aimed, according to the Magazine sources at enhancing the Nigerian Navy’s capacity ‘’to monitor and respond to the diverse maritime threats in the nation’s water and the GoG. Indeed, the partnership between the Nigerian Navy and NIMASA, in police the Nigerian waters and the GoG in the recent time had continued to yield result.
Recall that the US government before recent maritime equipment security donation, had transferred two ex-US, Coast Guard Cutters to the Navy, baptised as NNS Okpabana and NNS Thunder, which was said to have been received by Tanko Yakubu Pani, a Rear Admiral and Chief Staff Officer of the Navy in Lagos. Pani may have used the opportunity of taken delivery of the antipiracy equipment to espouse on the long- standing security cooperation between the US government and the Nigerian government to outline the Trump home country impact on the country’s maritime defense activities.
He had said that the RMAC, had greatly enhanced the Navy maritime policing efforts through ‘’intelligence -gathering patrols’’. It is instructive to note that the RMAC, facilities at present are installed at the West African countries of Nigeria, SaoTome/Principe, Gabon, Togo, Benin Republic, Coted’Ivoire and Sierra Leone.
It is on record that the Nigerian’s RMAC, facilities, which are installed at the flash point areas of Badagry, lagos state, Formoso, Bonny, and Ibaka, , became fully operational in 2008, during the Administration of late President Umaru Yar’Adua. The facility , the Magazine findings shows are also located alongside at the Operation Posts at the Navy regional Headquarters in Lagos, Yenagoa, Calabar and Abuja. Note that the Nigeria RMAC , training centre at Apapa, was equipped by the US Navy in 2019.
The US, government may not have extended the RMAC facility at Equatorial Guinea, which many believe has a major stake at the GoG . This may have informed why the sea criminality and pirates attacks on ocean-going vessels and oil tankers are rampant in the country maritime domain. Take for instance, on October 17, 2020, an LNG Carrier was said to have been boarded and attacked by Pirates within the region, whilst at anchor off Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. A Crew member of the Marshall Islands flagged vessel, identified as Methane Princess, was said to have been kidnapped by the Pirates. There are indications that there have been increased security threats to vessels operating in the GoG in pirates attacks in the GoG, in the recent time, particular, in Equatorial Guinea and Benin Republic in the recentt times. The situation, according to maritime experts may have been worse both for NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy intervention.
The Nigerian government had awarded a $195 million maritime security contract to HLS Technologies Limited, an Israeli security firm in 2017 which covers training of personel and supply of maritime equipment for the use of the Integrated National Security and Water ways Protection or the Deep Blue Project.
This may have forced Jamoh, the NIMASA, Director General to reach out to Ekwe-Ibas, a Vice Admiral and Chief of Naval Staff, Abubakar Sadiq, an Air Vice Marshall and Chief of Air Staff, Mohammad Babandede, Comptroller General, Nigerian Immigration Service, NIS, Mohammed Adamu, Inspector General of Police, IGP and Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, in order to work as a Team to rid the country maritime domain and the notorious GoG of the sea criminals.
Jamoh may have known that the agency technical Staff will not be able to manage the specialised maritime security equipment but the other security agencies personnel who have had the training like the Navy, Air Force and the Force Marine Unit personnel that he has started early to create the awareness about the arrival of such maritime equipment in the country to avoid taking them unaware.
The Maritime Regulatory agency may have considered it necessary to carry the other security agencies along because of the enormous amount the country was said to be losing annually to the pirates through their activities in the country waters and the GoG. Maritime analysts had said that the country was losing close $2.3 billion annually to the Pirates.
Already, Jamoh had confirmed that over 80% of the maritime security equipment which are scattered in different parts of the country: Lagos, Benin, Warri and Onne, have been delivered by the Israeli security firm to the agency for deployment into Nigerian waters and the GoG which sson. This is bad news for the Pirates.
The NIMASA, boss had said that the Helicopter interceptors, interceptor boats, unmanned aerial vehicles, Special Mission Aircrafts, SMA, Armoured Vehicles and Special Mission vessels, SMV, had been delivered to agency by the Asian country of Israel security Company.
Members of the Ministerial Steering Committee, under the Chairmanship of Bashir Salihi Magashi, a retired Army Brigadier General, and minister of Defense, had tranversed the nooks and locations of Lagos water channels , Benin, Warri and Onne, where these maritime security equipment were domiciled by NIMASA, to see things for themselves. The showcasing of the multi-million security equipment to the ministerial Steering Committee Combers by Jamoh, the NIMASA boss, who is also a member of the Committee, may have convinced them that Nigeria is ready to deal decisively with the Piracy activities in the country maritime domain and the GoG.