• Saturday, June 15, 2024
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Chinese warship: Lending hands to Nigerian Navy to fight crime

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A few days ago, the news broke that Chinese warships arrived Nigeria and were received with pomp and ceremony by many Chinese citizens in the country. The news generated a lot of controversy, with many commentators insinuating that the development signalled an imminent invasion of Nigeria by China. It was obvious that most of those who commented spoke from the point of ignorance. In this report, AMAKA ANAGOR-EWUZIE explained the real reason the Chinese warships are in Nigeria.

The Nigerian Navy has in recent times been receiving solidarity visits from their counterparts in Europe, America and Far East Asia. These visits are targeted at assisting the Nigerian Navy in fighting crimes in the Gulf of Guinea region.

These countries have in their own little ways been helping Nigeria to secure its waters better, which is translating to a reduction in the number of pirate-related incidences that occurred in Nigeria, according to reports from the International Maritime Bureau.

One such visit is the coming of three Chinese warships, MSL Destroyer NANNING, which arrived in Nigeria last weekend, with almost a battalion of soldiers to deepen the diplomatic relationship between Nigeria and China.

The vessel with 280 ship complements arrives in Nigeria with two other vessels MSL Frigate SANYA, and Supply Ship WEISHANHU.

This visit was to strengthen the bilateral relations between Nigeria and China and to enhance maritime security within West African water.

Findings show that China is one of the countries that have been consistent in helping the Nigerian Navy as the present visit of the three Chinese warships happens to be the third since 2012.

Rear Admiral Joseph Akpan, the Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command, said at the welcome reception of the warships in Lagos that the visit will help Nigeria fight crimes.

He said the visit would enable the two countries to exchange personnel onboard vessels in order to foster friendship across the horizon.

“During their period of stay, our men will be interacting, we will be having some sporting activities, exchange of momentous and gifts. We will also discuss the future of both navies, especially how we can benefit from each other,” Admiral Akpan said.

Admiral Akpan added that other vessels from Europe had also visited Nigeria to assist the Nigerian Navy in fighting crimes in the West African region.

Also at the reception, CUI Jianchun, Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, said the relations between the two countries have deepened and efforts were on to broaden the military relations between the two countries.

He said the visit of the ships demonstrated the harmony between Nigeria and China as the visit represents peace and enables Nigeria and China to work together for peace in the sub-region and for the international community.

He said the Nigerian military, and Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), could work together to overcome obstacles plaguing the two countries and deepen the relations between both countries’ navies.

“We will continue to do more things to facilitate and promote the relationship between the two countries,” Chun said.

Back in 2014, when the Chinese fleet of the 16th naval escort squad sent by the China PLA Navy arrived in Nigeria for a four-day friendship visit to Nigeria.

The fleet, including new-type guide missile frigate Yancheng, guided missile frigate Luoyang and supply ship Taihu, carried at least 660 crew members.

The Chinese fleet was welcomed by the then-Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Gu Xiaojie and Rear Admiral E.G. Ofik, chief staff officer of Nigerian Western Naval Command.

Gu said the visit was expected to improve the relationship between the navies of the two countries.

Captain Li Pengcheng, the then fleet commander, said the fleet was on a journey of peace, friendship and cooperation.

Also in August 2012, Dayang Yihao, a Chinese Oceanographic ship visited Nigerian waters for a nine-day exploration and research mission in Nigerian waters.

The joint mission involved more than 100 Chinese and Nigerian scientists as well as officials in attendance.

Liu Xianfa, China’s consul-general to Lagos, said the visit was an important moment for Chinese and Nigerian scientists to engage in maritime research, aiming to find more information on the ocean.

Meanwhile, E. A. Ajao, director of the Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research, said the joint oceanographic cruise was the first of its kind between the two countries and between an African state and the Chinese government.

“This exercise will promote development and cooperation in other areas of marine science and technology in the nearest future for ocean resource and exploration, ocean disaster reduction, satellite and remote sensing, climate change research, integrated coastal zone management and related research and training,” said Ajao.

Aside from China, other European countries and the United States of America have been visiting Nigeria.

For instance, in August 2021, a US warship known as USS Hershel Woody Williams visited Nigerian waters to support the Nigerian Navy in the fight against piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

In October 2021, the UK Royal Navy warship also visited Nigeria to help countries in the West African region secure their maritime domain.

In 2017, French Naval ship, Commandant L’Herminier visited with the aim to strengthen cooperation between French Navy and their Nigerian counterpart.