‘’We Will Strive To Make Nigerian Waters Safe For Ocean-going Vessels’’- Jamoh

By Stephen Ubanna

 Barely six months after President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General Launched the assets under the Integrated National Security  and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, popular, the Deep Blue Project, in Lagos, the nation’s Commercial nerve centre, Piracy and sea robbery in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea, appear to have dropped significantly.

This is evident going by the recent report of the International Maritime Burau, IMB, a Specialised Department of the International Chambers of Commerce, ICC, with responsibilities of fighting Piracy and Commercial fraud as well as protecting the Crews of ocean-going vessels. 

 The assets the deep Blue Project, domiciled in the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, under the close watch of Bashir Jamoh, that was said to have made this possible included Land, sea and air assets.

  The sea assets Comprised ofhe 16 armoured vehicles for coastal Patrol, 17 Fast Interceptor Boats,  and two Special Missions vessels while the air assets  comprised of two Special Mission aircrafts,  for Surveillance  of the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone, EEZ, , three Special Mission Helicopters for Search and Rescue Operations, and four unmanned  Aerial vehicles.

Deep Blue Project: SM, Vessel

 Note that the water assets are being manned by Awwal Zubairu Gambo, a Vice Admiral, led Nigerian Navy while the air assets are operated by the Nigerian Air Force, under the close watch of Air Marshall Isiaka Oladayo Amao.

There is no gain saying the fact that since the deployment of the $195 million Deep Blue Project assets delivered by the Israeli security firm, HLSI Security Systems and Technologies Limited, which had won the contract, the IMB, which  have  been following their operations in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea to checkmate the Pirates and sea robbery,   appears satisfied with their operations which had forced out the Criminal elements from the Nigeria maritime domain, thus giving breather  to the Captains and Crews of the Ocean-going  vessels.

  The ICC, Specialised Department, third quarter of 2021, report about the Piracy activities and sea robbery in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea, had confirmed that at long last since 1994, Piracy and sea robbery in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea declined appreciably to the admiration of the International Community.

  IMB  had reported a 77%  decrease in Piracy  activities and sea robbery in Nigerian waters between January and September , 2021,   compared to what the situation was in  the same period last year. The situation was so worrisome that it gave the Jamoh led current Management of NIMASA, Team a cause for concern, on how to stop the mess. This may have forced them to go back to the drawing board to restrategise on how to   deal decisively with the Pirates operating in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea   as well as protect the ocean-going vessels and their Crew members and improve patronage of  the Lagos ports of Apapa , Tin-can Island and the south east ports of Onne, Rivers, Calabar and Delta .

  The IMB report , according to informed sources has given Jamoh, the NIMASA, Director General has become a source of encouragement to him and his Management Team that they have vowed to put in ore efforts  to drive out the Pirates and sea robbers from the  from the nation’s maritime domain.

 At present most of the Pirates and sea robbers, who have been harassing ocean going vessels over the years  in the Niger Delta, region, particular, had relocated to Ghana, Cameroon, Gabon and other countries in the West and Central African Sub-regions as they no longer see Nigeria  waters as a safe haven for  their operations to grab quick money from ransom paid by ship-owners from their hijacked vessels and kidnapped Crew members.

  Recall that NIMASA had repeatedly reported that there were only four different attacks on ocean going vessels between January and September this year, in comparison to 17 in 2020 and 41 in 2018.

 The attacks on the ocean-going vessels were said to have occurred between January and May 2021, while there was no incident between June, 2021, and now.  Jamoh, the NIMASA, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, had said last May, at an interactive session with the Media,  that one of the incidents had occurred  in January, 2021 but there  was no incident February  because of the news making the rounds that the agency had concluded plans to deploy its security assets into Nigerian waters and the the Gulf of Guinea , for operations These  may have forced the Pirates and sea robbers on forced holiday. They may have returned to the Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea to resume operation in March as the the agency kept them in the dark. It was not surprising why there was an incident  

 Same month and two  in May amnd finally fizzled out as they could  no stand the heat from the Navala and Nigeria Air Force Personnel manning the  waters and air assets respectively.

   The IMB officials may have also gladdened the heart of Nigerians when they reported that there was also a39 per centreduction in piracy and armed robbery activities in the Gulf of Guinea, described as one of the most dangerous waters in the world . This is because of the frequent attack on ocean-going vessels in the region coming mostly from the Asian countries of China, India and the North American country of the United States, Europe and the Middle East, to discharge in the Nigerian ports.

 Indeed, the piracy and other related related crime   fighting agency had explained, in their report that “Crew kidnappings in the region have dropped with only one crew member kidnapped in Q3 2021, compared to 31 crew members taken hosstage in five separate incidents during third quarter of 2020. All the third quarter incidents in 2021 against vessels in Nigerian ports were to have occurred around the anchorage area whilst the average successful kidnapping location in the third quarter of 2020 was approximately 100 metres from land.

The IMB report, may have further gladdened the heart of Nigerians when it stated that going by “The overall reduction of piracy and sea robbery incidents in the Nigerian maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea, the regional and National Authorities, had made ‘‘bold Statement of an enhanced maritime security and response coordination measures that had been adopted which are working out

“We welcome the decrease of piracy and armed robbery attacks in the Gulf of Guinea and the efforts taken by maritime authorities in the region to stop the mess,”  Michael Howlett, an IMB, Director had said. This may have informed why he had called for the sustenance of the current momentum to forestall them from attacking ocean-going vessels.

. Acoording to him, “ there  is need to sustain the efforts ‘’to ensure the continued safety of seafarers as they transport essential goods throughout the region’’.  An elated Howlett had urged Coastal States ‘’to redouble their coordination and security measures to ensure that piracy and sea robbery incidents continue to decline, and new to rear up its ugly head  agin  in the region.

 Appreciative NIMASA, helmsman who could not hide his feelings had told those that cares to listen that he was delighted by this latest news from the IMB about the trend of the progressive reduction in piracy and other related incidents in Nigerian waters. He, however, asserted that they cannot afford to be complacent about their commitment to the security in the enation’s maritime domain hear him: “We will continue to strive for more effective measures to keep Nigerian waters safe and secure.

Edward Osagie, an Assistant Director, who is currently overseeing the agency Public Relations Department may have taken advantage of the IMB report , to draw the attention of Nigerians and the International Community, to the fact that the ‘’the Deep Blue Project is an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the Federal Ministry of Defence, but being implemented by  NIMASA, with other personnel drawn from the Nigerian Air Force, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police, Department of State Services, DSS,, and other relevant security agencies to make its operations successful and make Nigerian waters a no go areas for the Pirates and sea robbers..

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