In a determined effort to combat oil theft, the Nigerian Navy has initiated the deployment of 10 warships and two helicopters within its territorial waters. This strategic deployment, referred to as “Exercise Sea Guardian,” was officially announced by Rear Admiral Umar Chugali, the Flag Officer Commanding Central Naval Command.
Rear Admiral Chugali explained that the primary objective of this exercise is to minimize insecurity in Nigeria’s territorial waters. The Nigerian Navy is collaborating closely with other security agencies to ensure the success of this initiative.
He elaborated on the exercise, stating, “This joint exercise covering both the defense and policy roles of the navy consists of 10 ships, two helicopters, and over 500 boats, all actively engaged for four days at sea. The purpose is to demonstrate the capacity and capability of our naval assets at sea, securing Nigeria’s maritime space and the Gulf of Guinea (GoG).”
He emphasized that the maritime environment has faced ongoing threats both onshore and offshore, underscoring the need for this joint exercise, which was last conducted in 2021.
The core objective of “Exercise Sea Guardian” is to maintain a secure, stable maritime environment conducive to the prosperity of socio-economic activities. By deploying capital ships and other assets, the Nigerian Navy aims to complement previous achievements in curbing sea piracy, sea robbery, crude oil theft, and other illegal activities within its waters.
Rear Admiral Chugali acknowledged the dynamic and evolving nature of security challenges in the maritime environment. In response, the navy continues to adapt its tactics and strategies to minimize insecurity to the greatest extent possible.
Although Nigeria was removed from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) piracy list in March 2022, Rear Admiral Chugali emphasized that vigilance should be maintained. He attributed Nigeria’s successful exit from the piracy list to changes in the navy’s tactics and government support.
Rear Admiral Olusola Oluwagbire, the Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command (ENC), dismissed allegations that some navy personnel were involved in crude oil theft complexities in the country. He explained that these accusations were baseless, as no evidence has been presented to support such claims.
Rear Admiral Oluwagbire stated that the navy constantly monitors its personnel and takes strict action against any officers involved in illicit activities. The navy is committed to presenting its best personnel and assets in its deployments.