The Nigerian Navy said a combined naval exercise codenamed ‘GRAND AFRICAN NEMO’ (Navy exercise for maritime operations) has been flagged off in Nigerian waters.
Navy Director of Information, Commodore Suleman Dahun, who announced this in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja. said the exercise is being co-ordinated by the French Navy.
He said GRAND AFRICAN NEMO 2019 involves the participation of four Nigerian Navy ships and a helicopter.
Dahun said the five-day exercise aimed at supporting the efforts of regional navies to counter criminal activities in the maritime domain through different operational modes of planned exercises.
” Furthermore, the conduct of this year’s exercise will facilitate the involvement of various key ministries and departments namely Ministries of Justice, Finance, Interior, and Ministry of Agriculture as well as Department of Fisheries.
” It will also provide opportunities for inter-agency cooperation among major stakeholders in the maritime sector for enhanced security.
” The Exercise is also aimed at supporting the efforts made by regional navies and allied nations and is also being conducted to assist in training regional Maritime Operations Centres in sharing of real time information and capacity building,” he said.
Dahun said the four ships and one helicopter deployed for the exercise would carry out various naval drills together with other foreign ships within Nigerian waters.
He said this is in line with the strategic directives of the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Ibok-Ete Ibas, to end crude oil theft and economic sabotage in the nation’s maritime environment through enhanced patrol and operations.
Dahun said ships would conduct Visit Board Search and Seizure, Search and Rescue, Anti-Piracy and Anti-Poaching drills, Visual Communications and Casualty Evacuation exercises.
The naval spokesman said Fleet Maneuvers would also be conducted among others.
He said exercise would culminate in a debriefing for the review and assessment of conduct of the exercise in order to improve future exercises and perfect strategies at tackling maritime crimes.
He said GRAND AFRICAN NEMO has its genesis in the 2013 Yaounde, Cameroon summit in which countries that border the gulf of guinea (Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe Angola and Congo) pledged to strengthen maritime security operation.
He recalled that in an effort to counter piracy and other illegal activities in the West and Central African sub region, the Yaoundé Declaration on the Gulf of Guinea Security was adopted in June 2013.
Dahun said two key resolutions of the Declaration were the creation of an Inter-Regional Coordination Centre on Maritime Safety and Security for West and Central Africa to be headquartered in Yaoundé Cameroun.
” The second resolution was the implementation of a new Code of Conduct on the prevention and repression of piracy, armed robbery against ships and illegal maritime activities in West and Central Africa,” he said.
He said the Declaration has been operationalised since the signing of the agreement by Heads of States and Governments of member countries in the same year.