IMO extols Nigeria’s role in achieving security in Gulf of Guinea

The Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Mr. Kitack Lim, has extolled Nigeria's role in the effort to…

The Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Mr. Kitack Lim, has extolled Nigeria’s role in the effort to achieve security in the Gulf of Guinea.In his goodwill message at the launch of the maritime security infrastructure, Deep Blue Project, in Lagos on Thursday, Lim said that the project was a major development in the war against piracy.

He said the Deep Blue Project reflected Nigeria’s determination to lead the fight against piracy and armed robbery, not only in its national waters, but also in the Gulf of Guinea.

Lim stated that the IMO was committed to supporting Nigeria in the search for a safe and secure maritime industry.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who flagged off the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, declared that Nigeria now boasted better capability to control its maritime domain.

Buhari explained that the maritime security project offered a standard for other Gulf of Guinea countries in terms of strategy and collaboration.

Referring to the suppression of piracy and other Maritime Offences, SPOMO, Act, which he signed into law in June 2019, Buhari said: “I am confident that the project, which provides a robust maritime security architecture, will enhance maritime domain awareness capability and improve law enforcement action.”

Buhari said the flag-off of the Deep Blue Project was “an important step in the continuing shift in strategic action about regional maritime security”.

“It will serve as a benchmark for member states in the Gulf of Guinea and other relevant stakeholders to further develop innovative strategies and align efforts with the subsisting framework to improve maritime security in the region,” he said.

He stated that the launch marked an important milestone “in our collective effort to tackle security challenges in the form of piracy and other maritime crimes in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea. It is also a demonstration of government’s strong commitment to ensuring security.

“This intervention, no doubt, will facilitate a conducive environment for the maritime sector to thrive and contribute to the diversification of the Nigerian economy,” the statement by Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on Friday in Lagos quoted Buhari as saying.

Speaking at the occasion, Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, stated that the conceptualisation of the Deep Blue Project resulted from his assessment of the critical role of maritime in Nigeria’s effort to diversify its economy.

Amaechi pledged that the maritime security assets being deployed would be maintained for the country’s short and long term economic and security benefits.

In his speech, the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, said the completion and launch of the Deep Blue Project, which commenced in 2018, represented the fulfillment of a central mandate of his administration.

 “When I took up office with my executive team in 2020, we set out on a Triple S agenda of Maritime Safety, Maritime Security, and Shipping Development. We devoted most of our energy and focus in our first year to addressing the problem of maritime security. Without security of our seas, no meaningful seaborne trading or shipping economy can be possible. Securing our seas became a pressing mandate.

“Today marks the fulfilment of that mandate,”  Jamoh said.

The Deep Blue Project is an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the Federal Ministry of Defence, and it is being implemented by NIMASA, with personnel drawn from the Nigerian Air Force, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police, Department of State Services, and other security agencies.

The main goals of the project are to prevent illegal activities in Nigeria’s Exclusive Economic Zone, EEZ, enforce maritime regulations, enhance safety of lives at sea, and prevent illegal activities in the inland waterways.

The project has land, sea, and air assets meant to comprehensively tackle maritime security issues in Nigerian waters up to the Gulf of Guinea.

The land assets include the Command, Control, Computer, Communication and Intelligence (C4i) Centre for domain awareness and intelligence gathering, 16 armoured vehicles for coastal patrol, and a 600-strong Maritime Security Unit specially trained for interdiction.

The air assets include two Special Mission Aircraft, SMA, for surveillance of the EEZ, three Special Mission Helicopters, SMHs, for search and rescue, and four Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, UAVs. The sea assets comprise two Special Mission Vessels, SMVs, and 17 Fast Interceptor Boats, FIBs).

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