Anti-smuggling & Anti -Piracy Operations: Nigerian Navy, Now The Beautiful Pride

By Stephen Ubanna

For the past six months, the Nigerian Navy, NN, which has Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, as the Chief of Naval Staff, CNS, has become the beautiful bride. This is evident as Bashir Adewale Adeniyi, Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, has moved to strengthen collaboration with the security agency to sustain the tempo of the Customs anti-smuggling in operations through Nigerian waters to contain the activities of VIP Premium Motor Spirit, popular petrol smugglers and other contraband. 

 The Customs Comptroller General may have taken a cue from Bashir Jamoh, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, whose Organisation already has existing robust working relationship with the agency in its anti-piracy operations in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea in forcing many of the Pirates and sea robbers to go underground or relocate to other regions to continue their nefarious activities.

The Customs boss may have been encouraged to establish a close working relationship with the Nigerian Navy after a visit to the Naval dockyard at Apapa, Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve centre. He may have been shocked at what he saw on ground at the Western Naval Command, meaning that the Nigerian Navy has the capacity and all that it takes to maintain its fleet for border Patrol if given the opportunity to so as it currently operates and maintain some of the NIMASA maritime security equipment.

 The Customs Comptroller General visit to the Western Naval dockyard, at Apapa and the seriousness of the Engineers and technicians in doing their job may have informed why he had twitted in his X official handle formerly Twitter that’’ there was no need to establish a vessel maintenance unit in the agency’’, described in Customs circles as ‘’capital intensive’’.

Adeniyi, CG, Customs visit To Customs Dockyard, Apapa, Lagos

  He was emphatic:  We have an agency of government that has the knowledge, that has the capacity and willing to assist the service in managing its fleet of vessels.  

 The Customs Comptroller General may have gladdened the heart of Mustapha Hassan, a Rear Admiral, and Flag Officer FOC, Western Naval Command and his officers when he remarked that the service   could tap into the Command’s capacity and ‘’enter into agreement to operate and maintain its fleets’’.

He had said that the collaboration between the two government agencies will enhance the service Western Marine, the service Amphibious Command in the Western Command including the Eastern Command in the coastal areas which is key to reducing smuggling through the country’s water ways if the Land border arear are adequately policed.   

here is no gain saying the fact that the good working relationship that had been established by the two agencies over the past three years had resulted in minimising cases of piracy, sea robbery and other violent crimes in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea.

Jamoh, DG, NIMASA and Vice Admiral Ogalla, hold a closed door discussions during a working visit to the CNS, in Abuja, FCT

Given the established relationship that had been established by the two parties over the years, may have have informed why Jamoh, the NIMASA, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, who had dedicated his last three years in taking the maritime agency to another level that had been recognised by the International Community and the Leadership of the International Maritime Oganisation, IMO, a United Nations, UN, Martime Agency including the International Maritime Bureau, IMB.

IMB remarks that Jamoh’s Administration in NIMASA, over the last three years has managed to slow the tempo of piracy  , sea robbery and other related crimes  trough different  strategic  and deliberate efforts. This could not have been possible without the support of the Nigerian Navy at the Eastern and Western Naval Command.

Former President Muhammadu Buhari may have provided the ammunition for Jamoh led NIMASA, to deliver on its mandate by investing heavily into the acquisition of sea and air surveillance patrol maritime assets under the agency Deep Blue Project to deepen t the country’s maritime security.

 The then Katsina state born Nigerian President with the approval of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, had spent the North American country of the United States, US, $195 million to procure 17 Fast Interceptor Boats, for Coastal patrol, 16 Armoured vehicles, two Mission Vessels, SMVs, for surveillance of Nigeria’s Exclusive Economic Zone, EEZ, and two special Mission Aircrafts. This is in addition to three Special Mission Helicopters and four Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

The Israeli security, Messrs HLSI Security Systems and Technologies which had won the $195 million contract in 2017, was said to have procured and delivered all the security equipment to NIMASA.

The NIMASA   boss who believes that   without security of the nation’s waters and the Gulf of Guinea there will be no meaningful seaborne trading and shipping activities had set up. This may have informed why he has engaged the Nigerian Navy to operate and maintain the sea security equipment while the Nigerian Air Force operate and manage the air equipment to effectively control the activities of the pirates and sea robbers and other violent crimes in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea.

He got it right as the maritime security equipment, particular, the sea assets, has been deployed into operations forcing the pirates and sea robbers to desert Nigerian waters and give a breather to the Crew of the ocean -going vessels laden with cargoes at the notorious Gulf of Guinea.

Only recently, an elated NIMASA, Director General/CEO, paid a working visit to Vice Admiral Ogalla, the cns,  at Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, to further deepen  the existing  relationship  between the two agencies  for the collective  good of the nation’s maritime industry.

Given Jamoh’s determination to wipe out completely the activities of the Pirates, sea robbers as well as stop other violent crimes from the Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea, is evident by their discussion. The duo was said to have discussed areas of collaboration ‘’to ensure that the vision of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in creating the ministry of Marine and Blue Economy are achieved in good time’’.

The issue of illegal unreported and unregulated fishing was said to have also been discussed by them with the intention of exploring new vistas to ensure that Nigerians enjoy the benefits of the natural resources in the country’s waters.

The NIMASA who had had repeatedly said that the nation’s fishing sector is yearning for revival had lamented that only a quarter of the trawlers that operated in the country’s waters 20 years ago are still available now which had given room to the Asian country of China fishing Companies and other foreign shipping companies that have the trawlers to dominate the sector in Nigeria.

The NIMASA helmsman who could not hide his feelings at every opportunity given him to him to speak at any forum    had called on the private  sector to increase their investment and participation  in the nation’s fishing activities   which Charles Okorefe, an a Lecturer  at the  Maritime University , Okerenkoko Garamatu, Delta state had said ha ‘’lots of exotic foods for export like fish, shrimps and other fundamental  seafood for export that could boost  the present government blue economy initiative  too harness  the greater benefits  from the nation’s maritime industry. , 

The NIMASA Director General in the past had listed fishing, marine biology, marine geology, vessel ownership, Chandling , stevedoring  haulage , underwater engineering  and ship brokerage  as  areas that have openings  for more investment in the nation’s maritime sector to boost the country’s blue economy initiative.

 Adegboyega Oyetola, a former governor of Osun state and minister of Marine and Blue Economy, had said that the continued dominance of foreigners   in the fishing sector of the Nigeria’s economy   has rubbed the country of the opportunity of making fortunes out of the fishing sector which would have earned the West African nation the needed scarce foreign exchange to boost the economy. 

An aggrieve Oetola had lamented that despite the huge potential in Nigeria’s fishing sector, the country is still  being  regarded as  a net importer of fish which does not speak well of the country. It was not surprising why he had said that his ministry is determined to put measures in place to effectively tackle cases of illegal, unreported and unregulated, IUU, fishing in Nigerian waters.

The Osun state born minister of Marine and Blue Economy, who is a hurry to fulfil his Presidential mandate had said that he will do everything within his powers to harness maritime tourism and ensure maritime safety and security in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea. He was optimistic that the time has come to harness the potentials in the nation’s maritime water.

Many believe that illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities in Nigerian waters became pronounced because of the porous nature of the country’s borders by the sea and rivers with the neighbouring countries.

Note that Nigeria waters are linked to neighbouring Benin Republic, Ghana, Togo, Chad and the Central African country of Cameroun by sea or river that gives room to these increased IUU, activities and gives ancillary  support to other non-maritime  sectors like  agriculture, tourism and other trading ventures.

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