By Chiazo Ogbolu
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has taken delivery of additional mobile assets for enhanced maritime security in its “Deep Blue’’ project.
With the delivery, two unmanned aircraft system, 9 interceptor patrol boats and 10 armoured vehicles were added to existing assets earlier procured by the Federal Government.
The land assets include the Command, Control, Communication, Computer, and Intelligence Centre for intelligence gathering and data collection.
Also included are 16 armoured vehicles for coastal patrol and 600 specially-trained troops for Maritime Security Unit to carry out interdiction.
Before the new platforms were procured, the “Deep Blue’’ project had two Special Mission Vessels and 17 Fast Interceptor Boats.
The air assets are two Special Mission Aircraft for surveillance of the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), three Special Mission helicopters for search-and-rescue operations and four Unmanned Aerial Vehicles amongst others.
Dr Bashir Jamoh, NIMASA Director-General made these known in a statement issued in Lagos on Friday.
Jamoh stated that the additional equipment would improve on the gains recorded in securing the Gulf of Guinea; further check piracy and other maritme crimes and generally secure the Nigerian maritime domain.
“These newly-procured assets will assist us in building on the gains already recorded in the fight against piracy, sea robbery, oil theft, kidnapping, and illegal fishing among others.
“Nigeria is improving on her capacity to fight maritime crime by procuring state-of-technology equipment and upgrading human capacity for effective service delivery.
“It is also deploying assets for round-the-clock patrol, interdiction and reconnaissance with the support of the Nigerian Navy and other security agencies with which we signed Memoranda of Understanding,’’ Jamoh stated.
He described the recently-held Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum in Abuja as a success in rallying international support in the suppression of maritime insecurity.
He assured that Nigeria’s commitment to regional maritime security would always be sustained.
He also observed that the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Act emplaced by Nigeria is a robust statute supporting maritime law enforcement which other countries are considering to replicate.
Jamoh noted that the main objective of the “Deep Blue’’ project is to secure Nigerian waters up to the Gulf of Guinea.
The project has three categories of platforms to tackle maritime security on land, sea, and air.