The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, said the Navy has plans to extend its anti-piracy operations beyond nations’ waters, to neighbouring countries.
According to the CNS who spoke at the 10th SECUREX West Africa 2022 International Exhibition which held in Lagos State last week, there are glaring cases of piracy and kidnappings being perpetrated by some Nigerians in neighboring countries and as far as 100-200 nautical miles off the coast.
Gambo however noted that the move would place a huge burden on Nigeria, particularly the Navy, as more ships and logistics would be required for the extended patrols.
He said the Nigerian Navy’s swift response to illegal activities at sea has led to a reduced rate of successful attacks in the Nigerian domain.
“Unfortunately, recent observation has revealed the transnational nature and migrations trend of these criminals, especially pirates.
“Many pirates and kidnappings are now being perpetrated in the neighboring countries and as far as 100-200 nautical miles off the coast.
“It becomes necessary to extend Nigerian Navy anti-piracy operations to neighbouring nations’ waters.
“This places a huge burden on Nigeria, particularly the Navy, as more ships and logistics are required for these extended patrols,” he said.
Vice Adm. Awwal Gambo, also said that the Gulf of Guinea accounted for about 4.5million barrels of oil produced daily in Africa.
The CNS said that Nigeria’s maritime environment constituted about 12 per cent of the Gulf of Guinea thus accounting for over 85 per cent of the total seaward trade with the rest of the world.
“This is why the Nigerian Navy, which is the biggest protector of the Nigeria’s maritime environment, focuses on tackling maritime crimes, protecting critical national infrastructure as well as protecting Nigeria’s ports.
“The economy has about 36 trillion barrels and 182 billion cubic feet of oil and gas reserves with the capacity to produce about 2.4 million barrels and 8 billion cubic feet of oil and gas respectively per day.
“Thus, the maritime industry with associated infrastructure occupies prominent position in the matrix of Nigeria’s vital economic interest as it encompasses activities ranging from shipping, fishing, resource exploration among others,” he said.
Gambo said that there was frequent abuse of the maritime domain through illicit activities of local and foreign collaborators despite the numerous prospects of the maritime environment.
He noted that insecurity within the maritime domain stems largely from non-military causes such as socio-economic agitations, rising population, illiteracy, unemployment in the coastal communities.
“Obviously, the manifestations include: attacks on shipping, sabotage of hydrocarbon infrastructure and maritime resource, theft including diverse forms of illicit trafficking, illegal unreported and unregulated fishing among others.
“These threats constitute challenges to the socio-economic development and portray harmful dimensions for Nigeria’s coast at making its maritime environment a safe haven for local and foreign investors,” the CNS said.
Gambo said that the swift response of the Nigerian Navy to illegal activities at sea had reduced the rate of successful attacks of pirates in Nigeria’s maritime domain.
” The Nigerian Navy initiated the anti-piracy operation: ‘Op Tsare Taku’ and the anti-crude oil theft and illegal crude refining operation: ‘Op Dakatar Da Barawo’ to curb insecurity in the nation’s maritime environment.
“Subsequently, there has been a marked decline in piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. For instance, 11 pirates incidence were recorded in 2021 compared to 44 in the year 2020.
“This decline was complimented by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) piracy reports which also shows that Nigeria has exited its piracy list,” he said.
The CNS appreciated the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigeria Immigration Services (NIS) ) and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
He said their collaborative efforts had flustered shared vision on accomplishment of maritime security tasks and information sharing, leading to the successful arrest and prosecution of criminal cases.
Gambo said that the support of President Muhammadu Buhari had enabled the Nigerian Navy to renew her fleet with newly acquired ones in recent years.
“However, more ships are still needed to maintain the Nigerian Navy’s continuous presence as required so as to dominate the maritime space,” he said.
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