The director-general of Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Bashir Jamoh, says Nigeria has recorded zero sea robbery and piracy attacks in its waterways since the last quarter of 2021.
Mr Jamoh disclosed this while addressing State House correspondents at the weekly ministerial briefing, organised by the Presidential Communications Team on Thursday in Abuja.
According to Mr Jamoh, this feat was achieved following the deployment of an Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure in Nigeria, codenamed “Deep Blue” Project powered by NIMASA.
The Deep Blue project, which was inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2021, was to ensure that the nation’s waters and the Gulf of Guinea, GoG, are safe and secured.
Records indicate that about 70 per cent of maritime trade in the Gulf of Guinea is conducted in Nigeria’s waters, and this places enormous responsibility on the country to keep its maritime environment and by extension, the entire Gulf of Guinea, safe and secure.
He said that similar feat was also recorded in the entire Gulf of Guinea, noting that there had not been piracy attack since March.
Mr Jamoh said, “From the first quarter of this year to date, we have not recorded a single accident or incident on our territorial waters in terms of piracy attack. From the last quarter of 2021 till date, it’s over a year now, no single attack.
“This has led to the cancellation of the stigma placed on Nigeria as the most dangerous water in the world and the country was removed from the piracy list for the first time in March 2022.”
According to the NIMASA boss, with this records, Nigeria has continued to receive support from the international community including the International Maritime Organisation.
“What we did was to establish what we call Joint Industry Working Group; to open up our system to the international community and we told them that Nigeria is not the only country where there is insecurity or piracy but they always point on Nigeria only.
“Through that group, all stakeholders in our own industry now meet every month to discuss the progress of maritime insecurity in Nigeria and the entire Gulf of Guinea.
“We now have an agreement between NIMASA, Nigerian Navy and the International Coordinating Centre at Yaounde, Cameroun, so that we can address issues that have to do with maritime security.
“So by extension, in the entire Gulf of Guinea, we have not had piracy attack since March,” he said.
Mr Jamoh further said that there are ground and air patrols around Nigeria’s waterways through the Deep Blue Project to ensure safety of ships and lives on board.
“The regime introduced the Deep Blue Project, where we had to buy a number of various platforms.
“The President of Nigeria inaugurated the platform of the project, which has made Nigeria proud and many nations are coming to see how we manage our maritime security.
“We have two special mission vessels, which have the capacity of dynamic positioning. We can keep them at the high sea for a number of days,” he added.
Mr Jamoh disclosed that NIMASA had taken delivery of three special mission helicopters, 16 armoured vehicles specifically meant for creeks.
According to him, the vehicles have special features and can enter into the creeks and search for criminals.
“We also have two special mission aircrafts with 24 hour special cameras which they use to film any place or environment and send the signals immediately,” he added.
He further revealed that NIMASA had embarked on removing wrecks, maritime litters and also collaborating with the Nigeria Meteorological Agency, NIMET, as part of measures to ensure the safety of the waterways.
“We have now introduced what we call the marine litter and plastic action plan, through which we remove wastes like empty water bottles and sachets of water which are harmful to aquatic lives.
“We sent the plan to the international Maritime Organisation, they approved and we are now implementing it.
“The second thing is, we now try to improve marine environment management in order to ensure that the environment is safer.
“Any oil company found wanting will be forced to pay for such damages.
“We also collaborate with NIMET to have weather forecasts for our own maritime domain in order to ensure the safety of navigation in our waters,” he said.
According to Mr Jamoh, NIMASA has so far enjoyed support from Japan and Korea Republic, whereby, Japan assisted the agency with 2.7 million dollars for the building of ships.
He revealed that South Korea on its part, donated a warship to boost the capacity of NIMASA in fighting pirates and other criminals in the Gulf of Guinea.