The Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) Western Naval Command, Rear Adm. Jason Gbassa, on Tuesday, disclosed that Italian and French navies would be collaborating with the Nigerian navy to curb piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
Gbassa made the announcement to newsmen while receiving delegates from the Italian naval ship, Antonio Marceglia, and the French naval ship, Commandant DUCUING, who paid courtesy visits to the command.
He said that the two-day exercise, scheduled to hold from Oct. 6 to Oct. 7, would help address the issues of maritime crime, drug trafficking, human trafficking on our waterways, among others.
“Piracy, sea robbery and all forms of criminal activities on the waterways are a threat to international trade, a threat to relations between nations and even a threat to life.
“It is in recognition of this that the Nigerian Navy, knowing the global nature and effect of these criminalities, collaborate with foreign allies to strategise in curbing such criminalities
“It is going to be a combined sea exercise, involving the three nations, which will involve our surface assets and air assets over two days,” he said.
The FOC said that the scope of the exercise had been expanded to involve five Nigerian naval ships, helicopters and a Special Boat Service (SBS).
“The history between our countries has been cordial and strong, particularly in security within the context of the sub-region and the Gulf of Guinea, and your presence in Nigeria cannot be denied.
“The issues we have around the Gulf of Guinea, in a negative sense, constitutes a threat to international trade and the regional peace.
“We are glad to have the Italian Navy and French Navy collaborate with us to attend to and resolve these issues,” Gbassa said.
He said that the exercise would give the three navies insights into providing security within the maritime domain and particularly address the disturbing incidence of piracy and sea robbery within the maritime space.
“We have a present concern in the Gulf of Guinea which, if not well addressed, will affect your own economic interests in this part of the world.
“All efforts will be made to make sure that the criminalities on our waterways are reduced to the barest minimum and eventually eradicated.
“We hope that this exercise will help to further reduce these incidents, which have been drastically reduced over the past few months,” the FOC said.
Gbassa said that he hoped to have more of such visits in the future and endorse for trainings of personnel between the navies, for the benefit of the participating nations.
“We hope that the relations we have established, particularly in the area of security, where our militaries train together from the tactical level to the operational level be sustained.
“Other areas that we can build on, we will explore and look forward to maintaining our relationship that will be beneficial to our nations,” Gbassa added.
The French Consul General to Nigeria, Mrs Laurence Monmayrant, described the French naval ship, Commandant DUCUING, was a 93-metre long vessel with a crew of 105 and powerful intervention needs.
Monmayrant said that the common goal was to fight against insecurity and criminal activities in the Gulf of Guinea in order to secure international trade on such a major maritime route.
“For over 30 years, the French Navy has been present on the African West coast as part of the Yaoundé convention.
“Since 2013, the Yaoundé convention has moved on to a new dimension to deter criminal activities encountered in this maritime region, such as illegal fishing, drug trafficking, armed trafficking and even human trafficking.
“This exercise includes different operations of interception of pirates, tracking of smugglers, rescue actions and even diving, among other operations,” she said.
The FOC presenting a plaque of honour to the Italian Consul General, Mr Maurizio Busanelli.
Also speaking, the Italian Consul General to Nigeria, Mr Maurizio Busanelli, said that the exercise was important because it would help to save lives and protect the growth of global trade.
Kindly like us on Facebook