L-R: Director, Maritime Safety and Security, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Danjuma Dauda, Best Graduant, Abdulrazaq Lawal, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Dr Dakuku Peterside, during the presentation of Certificate to the Graduants at the Deep Blue Project Graduation Ceremony, last week in Lagos.
The Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has graduated 41 security operatives in intelligence gathering course under a scheme tagged 'Deep Blue Project', targeted at securing Nigerian maritime domain up to the Gulf of Guinea.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony held at the NIMASA resource centre, Kirikiri, Lagos, Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside said the graduants were trained by Israeli based security firm; HLS International.
Shipping Position Daily recalls that the Federal Executive Council had awarded a security contract worth $195 million to HLS International. Component of the project includes; acquisition of assets, training of personnel and intelligence.
Dr Peterside noted that the operatives had undergone four weeks training on intelligence and surveillance training.
He said they were carefully selected across various security agencies including Nigerian Navy, Air force, Nigerian Army, Police and Department of State Security.
He said the Deep Blue project is geared towards building a formidable integrated surveillance and security architecture that will comprehensively combat maritime crime on Nigerian waterways, up to the Gulf of Guinea.
He said "The maritime sector is critical to Nigeria's economy and worried by the continued threat of insecurity of our maritime economy and the need to support economic renaissance of the nation, there was a bilateral collaboration between the ministries of defence and transportation with active support of NIMASA and we got a Presidential approval as well as FEC approval to initiate and commence the deep blue project"
"The Nigerian maritime domain lately has been in the news for the wrong reasons, today we are described as an area known for piracy, maritime crime, investors are scared, business that should ordinarily call at our ports are now being diverted to neighboring ports just because of the threat of maritime insecurity"
"As a country, we are not going to fold our hands and watch people destroy our economy by few criminal elements among us, it is in view of that, we initiated a holistic program to tackle maritime insecurity"
The NIMASA boss noted that globally, the fight against piracy is driven by intelligence; hence the Deep Blue project would be driven by intelligence and technology.
While addressing the officers, he said; "This country is looking up to you, the world is looking up to you, the world is generally concerned about insecurity in the gulf of guinea and we have put you through this four weeks course, we know you have been equipped and you can't afford to fail the nation"
"Conduct yourself on the best ethical manner possible, have an analytical mind and highest level of patriotism"
Speaking at the event, representative of HLS International, Mr Niki Gash commended the operatives, saying that they graduated with 90 percent score which means they were certified very well.
Mr Gash said the Deep Blue project is a continuous as another set of 300 operatives would soon be trained in land maneuvering skills.
Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi who was represented at the event by the Director of Maritime Safety and Security, Mr Danjuma Dauda described the awarded security contract to HLS international as the best answer to criminalities on Nigerian waterways.
He said the Deep Blue Project also includes establishment of command and control centres at different locations around the country to monitor and control suspicious maritime activities.
Speaking for his colleagues, the best graduating student in the class, Mr. Abdulrazak Muhammed Lawal assured that the officers have been well exposed to intelligence gathering skills within four weeks that the training lasted.
According to him, any vessel that is 4,000 nautical miles into Nigerian exclusive economic zones can now be tracked while all necessary information about the ship would be revealed.
"With this intelligence, we can now curb maritime crimes before they occur", he assured.