• Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

The Nigerian Navy has announced the deployment of assets procured by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) through the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, commonly referred to as the Deep Blue project.

These assets have been strategically positioned across the South West, Central, and Eastern Zonal operations, effectively reinforcing patrols within the Nigerian maritime expanse.

Commodore Victor Choji, the Acting Fleet Commander of the Western Naval Command and Commander of the Deep Blue Project, conveyed this update during an official visit by Rear Admiral Mohammed Abdullahi, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) of the Western Naval Command, to NIMASA’s management. Commodore Choji also emphasized that Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, the Chief of Naval Staff, leads the Nigerian Navy with unwavering dedication to the successful realization of the Deep Blue Project.

According to him, “The assets have already been well deployed. As we speak 5 armoured vehicles are deployed in Port Harcourt and 3 in Bonny.”

Continuing his remarks, he mentioned that the project team had introduced an additional 10 vehicles and a drone unit to the Bonny area, along with a complement of personnel. He alluded to the fact that during the recent national elections, the mere existence of the deep blue assets in those regions yielded the necessary influence that was needed.

Choji added that within the Central Zone Command, the Navy had dispatched three sets of specialized mission components to the brass area, as well as two interceptor boats carrying the special intervention force elements within the central command.

“In Lagos, just last week, we got a directive that there is a requirement and we are about to deploy 2 interceptor boats to support the operations that are ongoing in Lagos Inland waters. I can state categorically that we have the full backing of the Nigerian Navy for the success of the Deep Blue Project,” he noted.

Speaking, Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, pointed out that the assets procured by the Agency as part of the Deep Blue Project are under the management of a specialized project group led by a Commodore from the Nigerian Navy. He reiterated the Agency’s dedication to fostering a strong partnership with the Nigerian Navy, aiming to contribute to the economic advancement of the nation.

“I believe that the Agency and the Nigerian Navy have a lot in common to ensure safety and security in the nation’s waters. While the Nigerian Navy takes care of the kinetic operations, NIMASA concentrates on non-kinetic operations, and the two will have to go hand in hand if we must succeed. If you look at the armed forces act, the Nigerian Navy has a role to play in ensuring the implementation and enforcement of the NIMASA and Customs & Excise act”, he noted.

Jamoh has articulated NIMASA’s aspiration to maximize returns on the investments made and still being made in the Deep Blue Project. He additionally highlighted that the Agency maintains consistent communication with the National Assembly.

This communication aims to ensure that the nation’s maritime laws, particularly the Merchant Shipping Act, are updated appropriately. This update would include incorporating robust punitive measures within the legal framework to effectively discourage criminal activities within Nigerian waters.

In acknowledging the commendable efforts of the Nigerian Navy in tracing vessels that deactivate their Automatic Identification System (AIS) within Nigerian waters, Dr Jamoh urged for enhanced collaboration among all governmental bodies within the maritime sector.

He specifically emphasized the importance of synergizing efforts between the Nigerian Navy and the maritime division of the Nigerian Police. This collaborative approach is crucial in promptly addressing the recent instances of criminal activities occurring in the vicinity of the Lagos anchorage and inland waterways.

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