Maritime: US Boosts Nigerian Anti-Piracy War With Security Equipment

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’’

Vice Admiral Ibok-Ekwe, CNS

. 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.

US Donated Maritime Equipment To Nigeria

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. 

Nigerian Navy Engages Pirates

  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.  

Jamoh: DG, NIMASA

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.

hls Delivered Security Equipment To NIMASA, Trouble For 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.   

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