Nigeria restates readiness to crush sea piracy, criminality

…as new equipment arrive Port Harcourt

New and sophisticated security equipment have arrived Nigeria to help the Federal Government crush sea piracy and other crimes that have made seafaring dangerous.

The equipment which were inspected at Onne Port in Rivers State by the military and Ministry of Defence leadership include armoured vehicles, fast-moving boats fitted with communication and navigational aids, arms and ammunition, and bulletproof vests.

They are expected to be deployed in what is called the ‘Deep Blue Project’ which is aimed at wholly addressing crime and criminality in Nigeria’s territorial waters and the Gulf of Guinea, with information and data sharing among relevant stakeholders, according to government officials.

With this, FG has reiterated its determination to protect Nigeria’s territorial waters and tackle the incidence of sea piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

Security chiefs said with the set of equipment, the security agencies would watch everything going on in the waters and act with precision when it is appropriate.

Bashir Magashi, defence minister and chairman, Presidential Committee on Deep Blue Project, said this after inspecting the security equipment and other hardware procured for the project.

Magashi was joined on the inspection by Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transportation, Ibok Ibas, chief of naval staff, the Admiral, and Bashir Jamoh, director-general, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

The defence minister expressed optimism that with the quality of security equipment on the ground, the issues of crime and criminality within the country’s territorial waterways, in addition to sea piracy, would be effectively tackled.

“We gave out this contract with reference to particular specifications and we are here to see for ourselves whether they are built to specifications,” Magashi said.

“Our technical people will continue to monitor and confirm that they are according to specifications or not. But so far, so good, I believe we are on track,” he said.

The defence minister stressed further that the issue of sea piracy was already being tackled by the Nigerian Navy and that the deployment of the newly acquired security hardware will bolster such efforts.

“Sea piracy is already being tackled by our naval men, whose responsibility is to protect our waterways and they are doing a good job,” the minister said.

“The Gulf of Guinea is so vast; it involves many countries, with crimes being committed by citizens of these countries. But with the acquisition of this set of security equipment, we should be able to observe, detect, and be able to call on this project to solve the problem of sea piracy.

“The navy is already containing the situation. Before now, sea piracy was high but it has reduced to a situation where I can say we are in control. The implementation of this project will further help in this direction,” he said.

Also speaking, the minister of transportation expressed satisfaction with the quality of equipment inspected so far.

He added that they would be deployed as soon as all the equipment were inspected and training of the personnel to man them concluded.