The Federal Government has once again reiterated its commitment and determination to protect Nigeria’s territorial waters and, tackle the incidence of sea piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
Minister of Defense and Chairman of Inter-Ministerial Committee on Deep Blue Project, General Bashir Magashi (Rtd) stated this in Port Harcourt at the weekend after inspecting security equipment and other hardware purchased for the project.
Magashi was joined on the inspection by Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Ibok Ibas and, Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Bashir Jamoh.
He expressed optimism that with the quality of security equipment on ground, the issues of crime and criminality within the country’s waterways, in addition to sea piracy would be effectively tackled.
According to him, “we gave out this contract with reference to particular specifications and we are here to see for ourselves whether they are built to specifications.
“Our technical people will continue to monitor and confirm that they are according to specifications or not. But so far, so good, I believe we are on track.”
The defense minister stressed further that the issue of sea piracy was already being tackled by the Nigerian Navy and that the deployment of the newly acquired security hardware will bolster such efforts.
“Sea piracy is already being tackled by our naval men, whose responsibility is to protect our waterways and they are doing a good job.
“The Gulf of Guinea is so vast, it involves many countries, with crimes being committed by citizens of these countries. But with the acquisition of these security equipment, we should be able to observe, detect and be able to call on this project to solve the problem of sea piracy.
“The navy is already containing the situation. Before now, sea piracy was high but it has reduced to a situation where I can say we are in control. The implementation of this project will further help in this direction,” he stated.
Also speaking, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi expressed satisfaction with the quality of equipment inspected so far.
He added that they would be deployed as soon as all the equipment were inspected and training of the personnel to man them concluded.
Among items inspected are arms and ammunition; fast interceptor boats fitted with communication and navigational aids, armoured vehicles and bullet proof vests.
The Deep Blue Project is aimed at wholly addressing crime and criminality in Nigeria’s territorial waters and the Gulf of Guinea, with information and data sharing among relevant stakeholders.