By Ismaila Chafe, Abuja.
Dr Bashir Jamoh, Director-General, Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency (NIMASA), says Nigeria has recorded zero sea robbery and piracy attacks in its waterways since the last quarter of 2021.
Jamoh disclosed this while addressing correspondents at the weekly ministerial briefing, organised by the Presidential Communications Team, on Thursday in Abuja.
The director-general said that the feat was achieved because of the deployment of an Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure in Nigeria, codenamed “Deep Blue Project”, which was powered by NIMASA.
The Deep Blue Project, which was inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2021, is aimed at ensuring the safety and security of the nation’s waters and the Gulf of Guinea (GoG).
Records indicate that about 70 per cent of maritime trade in the Gulf of Guinea is conducted in Nigeria’s waters, thereby placing enormous responsibility on the Federal Government to keep the country’s maritime environment and by extension, the entire Gulf of Guinea, safe and secure.
Jamoh said that similarly, there was improved security in the entire Gulf of Guinea, as there had not been piracy attack in the area since March.
He said: “From the first quarter of this year to date, we have not recorded a single accident or incident on our territorial waters in terms of piracy attack. From the last quarter of 2021 till date, it’s over a year now, no single attack!!
“This has led to the cancellation of the stigma placed on Nigeria as having the most dangerous waters in the world and the country was removed from the piracy list for the first time in March 2022.’’
According to the NIMASA boss, with this records, Nigeria has continued to receive support from the international community, including the International Maritime Organisation.
“What we did was to establish what we call Joint Industry Working Group; to open up our system to the international community and we told them that Nigeria is not the only country where there is insecurity or piracy but they always point to Nigeria only.
“Through that group, all stakeholders in our own industry now meet every month to discuss the progress of maritime insecurity in Nigeria and the entire Gulf of Guinea.
“We now have an agreement between NIMASA, Nigerian Navy and the International Coordinating Centre at Yaounde, Cameroun, so that we can address issues that have to do with maritime security.
“So by extension, in the entire Gulf of Guinea, we have not had any piracy attack since March,” he said.
Jamoh also said that there were ground and air patrols around Nigeria’s waterways through the Deep Blue Project, to ensure safety of ships and lives on board.
“The regime introduced the Deep Blue Project, where we had to buy a number of various platforms.
“The President of Nigeria inaugurated the platform of the project, which has made Nigeria proud and many nations are coming to see how we manage our maritime security.
“We have two special mission vessels, which have the capacity of dynamic positioning. We can keep them at the high sea for a number of days,’’ he added.
Jamoh disclosed that NIMASA had taken delivery of three special mission helicopters, 16 armoured vehicles specifically meant for creeks.
According to him, the vehicles have special features and can enter into the creeks and search for criminals.
“We also have two special mission aircrafts with 24-hour special cameras which they use to film any place or environment and send the signals immediately,” he added.
Jamoh further revealed that NIMASA had embarked on removing wrecks, maritime litters, while collaborating with the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET), as part of measures to ensure the safety of the waterways,
“We have now introduced what we call the marine litter and plastic action plan, through which we remove wastes like empty water bottles and sachets of water, which are harmful to aquatic lives.
“We sent the plan to the International Maritime Organisation, they approved it and we are now implementing it.
“The second thing is, we now try to improve marine environment management, in order to ensure that the environment is safer.
“Any oil company found wanting will be forced to pay for such damages.
“We also collaborate with NIMET to have weather forecasts for our own maritime domain, in order to ensure the safety of navigation in our waters,” he said.
Jamoh said that NIMASA had enjoyed appreciable support from Japan and Korea Republic, adding that Japan assisted the agency with 2.7 million dollars for the building of ships.
He added that South Korea on its part, donated a warship to boost the capacity of NIMASA in fighting pirates and other criminals in the Gulf of Guinea.