By Stephen Ubanna
At long last the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, have received the Long awaited Last Batch of the Integrated National Security and Waterways Infrastructure, popular Deep Blue Sea Project, anti-piracy assets procured with the $195 million contract awarded to an Israeli security Company, HLS, International limited in 2017.
That much was confirmed on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, by Bashir Jamoh, the agency Director General. The NIMASA, Director General was said to have been accompanied to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, Ikeja by Timipre Sylva, minister of state, ministry of Petroleum Resources, and Chudi Offodile NIMASA’s ,Executive Director, Finance and Administration to receive the anti-piracy equipment.
Prior, to the supply of the latest maritime asset ,the Israeli security Company had supplied three Special Mission Helicopters which are at the Naval Base, Apapa, billed to be launched for Operattion in May 21, 2021.
Addressing journalists at the MMIA, Nigerian Air Force Base, Ikeja, during a brief ceremony to mark the arrival of the new anti-piracy aircraft, Jamoh, who could not hide his feelings said ‘’ the arrival of the assets would further improve the security in the Nigerian water ways and the Gulf of Guinea’’ .
The deployment of some the maritime assets may have informed why he NIMASA, Director General had said that ’’there had been a drastic reduction in the rate of Piracy attacks at the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone, EEZ’’, noting that ‘’the goal of the agency is to basically eliminate incidents of Pirate attacks on ships in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea’’.He noted that’’ it is a clear indication that the agency getting it right with the Deep Blue Project’’.
The NIMASA, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, disclosed that the figures the Maritime Regulatory agency is curently getting from the International Maritime Bureau,IMB, are encouraging. He, however, said that the ultimate aim of the agency is’’ to completely eradicate security hindrances to shipping and businesses generally in the Nigerian maritime domain.”
IMB, is a specialised division of the International Chamber of Commerce,ICC, which has as its major global focal point to fight against maritime crimes and malpractices. The organisation in the recent months had’’reported a consistent year-on-year drop in the number of attacks on ships in Nigerian waters’’.
Indeed, the latest IMB quarterly report of piracy and armed robbery attacks against ocean-going vessels laden with cargoes only recorded two incidents in Nigerian waters between January and March this year, compared to 11 attacks within the same period last year’’. An elated Jamoh said ‘’these figures are a proof that’’ the agency can make the country waters’ safe and secure, stressing that’’ they are determined to do so”.
This may have informed why he had celebrated the supply of the final phase of the assets under the Deep Blue Project by HLS, International Ltd, an Israeli security firm. He is optimistic that assets would ‘’ further boost ithe agency capacity to secure the country’s waters up to the Gulf of Guinea,”.The Deep Blue Project, is designed with three categories of platforms to tackle maritime security issues on land, sea, and air.
The land assets comprises of the Command, Control, Communication, Computer, and Intelligence Centre, C4i, for intelligence gathering and data collection, 16 armoured vehicles for coastal patrol, and about 600 specially trained troops for interdiction, known as Maritime Security Unit.
For the air operations, there are indications that the two Special Mission Aircrafts would be deployed for surveillance of the EEZ. Already, one of the aircrafts was received last Wednesday, while the second one is expected to arrive the country on Tuesday,May 18, 2021.
The three Special Mission Helicopters would be used for search and rescue operations as the four Unmanned Aerial Vehicles had already been be deployed for operations, . The sea assets consist of two Special Mission Vessels and 17 Fast Interceptor Boats, Philip Kaynet, a Deputy Director, and Head of the agency Corporate Communications had said.