By Stephen Ubanna
More facts have emerged why Piracy has reduced to the barest minimum in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea. This is because of the deployment of the Deep Blue Assets, comprising of the $195 million maritime assets 16 Armoured vehicles, 17 interceptor Boats, two Special Mission vessels for coastal patrol, two special mission aircrafts, for Surveillance of Nigerian Economic Zone, EEZ, three helicopters and three unmanned aerial vehicle into Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea which are functioning to its fullest.
That much was confirmed by Victor Choji a Commodore and acting Fleet Commander, Western Naval Command and Commander Deep Blue Project , during a recent working visit by Rear Admiral Mohammed Abdullahi , Flag Officer Commanding, FOC,, Western Naval Command to Bashir Jamoh, OFR, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and his Management Team.
Commodore Chioji, who could not his feelings noted that the Nigerian Navy under the close watch of Emmanuel Ogalla, a Rear Admiral who is fully committed to the success of the Deep Blue Project has sustained the tempo of operations inherited from his predecessor, Vice Admiral Muazu Zubairu Gambo, rtd, across the south, central and south eastern regions ‘’to enhance control of the nation’s maritime domain’’.
Osagie Edward, an Assistant Director and NIMASA, spokesperson, disclosed that during an interactive seession, Commodore Chioji , did not hesitate in telling Rear Admiral Abddullahi, and further reassuring the Management of the Management of the Maritime regulatory agency that the $195 million maritime security assets are well deployed. He had said that five armoured vehicles are deployed in Port Harcourt water ways in Rivers state and three in Bonny, also in the state to put the Local Pirates and their external Collaborators under close watch.r
Given the high level of pirates activities in the Niger Delta region, which is more pronounced in the PortHarcourt and Bonny water ways may have informed why the project team had deployed an additional 10 more armoured vehicles there and more personnel.
He revealed that during the just concluded February 25, 2023, Presidential and National Assembly elections as well as the March 31, governor and state Assembly elections, ‘’the mere presence of the Deep Blue assets alone in those flashpoint locations provided the needed inference that was required to force the criminal elements to go underground or relocate another location within Gulf of Guinea region. Enough of the Niger Delta region.
We now turn to the central Zone operations. Commodore Chioji, the Deep Blue project Fleet Commander had said that the Navy which operates and maintains the sea maritime security assets has deployed three units of special mission equipment in Brass, Byelsa, home state of former President Goodluck Jonathan .
The superlative performance of the maritime security assets deployed in PortHarcourt, Bonny water ways, all in Rivers state and Broaa, Bayelsa state , may facilitated the deployment two interceptor Boats to support the anti-piracy operations in Lagos Inland waterways . ‘’I can state categorically that the project team have the full backing of the Nigerian Navy Leadership for the success of the Deep Blue project so far’’, Commodore Chioji had aid.
In his own remarks, Rear Admiral Abdullahi, the FOC, Western Naval Command, , may have gladdened the heart of Jamoh and members of the Management Team when he said that ‘’NIMASA, which oversees the Deep Blue project has remained the Command first point of call since he assumed duty,noting that ‘’it underscores the importance the Nigerian Navy pays to her relationship with the agency’’.
Hear him: I am here in recognition of the support and cooperation the Navy currently enjoys with the agency ‘’, stressing that the two agencies still have a long way to go in order ‘’to actualise the mandate of safeguarding the Nigerian maritime domain.
He was said to have also used the opportunity of the visit ‘’to pledge the continuous support of the Western Naval Command to the agency , as well as look forward to more cooperation in the coming years for the overall good of the nation’s maritime domain.
In apparent response to the Naval Chiefs remarks during the visit, Jomoh, the NIMASA, Director General was said to have restated the agency’s commitment ‘’ to a robust relationship with the Nigerian Nay towards the economic development of the country’’. He had said that the agency and the Navy, already have a lot in in common to ensure safety and security in the nation’s water ways,
He asserted that ‘’while the Nigerian Navy takes care of the kinetic operations , the two parties will have to work in hand if the must succeed in their efforts to stamp out piracy in Nigerian waters and he Gulf of Guinea. The NIMASA , helmsman avered that that if one should look at the armed Forces act , the Nigerian Navy, particular, has a role to play in ensuring the implementation and enforcement of its act and that of the Nigerian Customs and Excise Management Act, CEMA, cap 2004.
Jamoh , the NIMASA, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, who had repeatedly told stakeholders that cares to listen that that desire of the agency under his Leadership is ‘’to earn full value for the funds invested and still investing in the operations of the Deep Blue Project ‘’, noted that it is in constant liaison with the National Assembly to ensure an update of the country’s maritime Laws, particular, the Merchant Shipping Act to guarantee punitive measures that will be passed into Law to deter criminalities in Nigeria water ways and the Gulf of Guinea.
He was said to have given kudos to the Rear Admiral Ogallah led Nigerian Navy for their efforts in ‘’tracking vessels which switched off their Automatic Identification System , AIS, in Nigerian waters while calling for improved synergy amongst all the relevant security agencies in the maritime sector, the Navy, and the marine arm of the Nigerian Police Force, NPF, to quickly tackle head on pockets of recent criminal activities in the Lagos anchorage and inland water ways.