GoG Security: CNS, Vice Admiral Gambo commends European Union for SWAIMS; Donation of 30 Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats to 12 West African coastal states; Assures NN readiness to partner internationally on curbing maritime crimes in the GoG.
Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo on Thursday commended the European Union (EU) for its fundamental support and partnership in operationalizing the Yaoundé Code of Conduct through diverse programmes and initiatives towards capacity development in the Gulf of Guinea.
Speaking on the occasion of the joint Nigeria-European Union Collaborative ceremony at the Western Naval Command headquarters in Lagos, Vice Admiral Gambo who was represented by Rear admiral Saidu Garba, Chief of Policy and Plans, said, “We have engaged with you in notable programmes such as the support to West Africa Integrated Maritime Security (SWAIMS) which only this week donated 30 Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats to 12 West African coastal states.
Others include the support programme for the Maritime Safety and Security Strategy in Central Africa (PASSMAR) and the West and Central Africa Port Security (WECAPS); all these programmes have contributed to positive outcomes in maritime security with meaningful impact on ocean governance in the Gulf of Guinea.
“Nigeria has also actively partnered with the EU and other African countries in the optimization of the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum – Shared Awareness and Deconfliction (SHADE) as well as Yaoundé Architecture Regional Information System (YARIS) where already some Nigerian Navy personnel are undergoing training on the system.
Continuing, Gambo said, “Nigerian Navy and indeed Nigeria appreciates the EU Coordinated Maritime Presence which compliments other maritime security programmes and projects in the Gulf of Guinea.
“In this regards, the Nigerian Navy calls for enhanced collaboration with EU and coastal states within the framework of the Yaoundé Architecture on information sharing in order to bridge the apparent existing communication gap” adding, “You can count on the Nigerian Navy’s willingness to always collaborate with international partners on efforts to curb maritime crimes in the Gulf of Guinea.
Emphasizing that “A secured maritime environment is a contributing factor to the economic prosperity of nations the world over”, the CNS said, “The struggle against maritime insecurity is a collaborative effort that no single country or region can tackle alone.
“For this reason, ECOWAS in conjunction with the Economic Community of Central African States formulated the Yaoundé Code of Conduct as a foundation for broad based regional maritime security along the entire Gulf of Guinea.
“But the security partnership goes beyond Africa, embracing the European Union and other key international players geographically outside the Gulf of Guinea because the Gulf of Guinea is of global importance as a crucial maritime route.
“Therefore, effort to continue to secure the maritime space, especially the Gulf of Guinea is crucial to the Regional Navies and international players. The Gulf of Guinea itself is a vast and diverse region stretching from Senegal to Angola covering approximately 2,874nm of coastline.
“It is an important shipping zone transporting oil and gas as well as goods to and from Africa and the rest of the world. On any one day there are about 1500 tankers, cargo ships and fishing vessels navigating its waters.
“Regrettably, piracy, armed robbery at sea, kidnapping of seafarers, illegal unreported and unregulated fishing, smuggling, trafficking and transnational organized crimes pose a major threat to maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.
“Maritime insecurity has long been one of the most persistent and intractable threats to maritime communities and economic prosperity in West Africa. Importantly, concerted efforts in form of synergy should be maintained to curb these maritime crimes.
“Permit me to use this opportunity to state that the commitment of the Nigerian Navy towards maritime security has yielded dividends.
“A lot has been achieved by the Nigerian Navy in the safeguard of the Gulf of Guinea. Notable among them is the arrest of 10 pirates whose jail terms were secured for hijacking a Chinese fishing vessel, FV HAI LU FENG II off Cote D’Ivoire in May 2020.
“The crime committed violated Section 3 of the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Act 2019, punishable under Section 2 of the same Act.
“Nigeria has continued to record successes in the anti-piracy war as activities of pirates in the Gulf of Guinea have reached an all-time low in more than a decade.
“Following the significant success occasioned by the Nigerian Navy’s increased maritime security operations against maritime criminalities in collaboration with other agencies, the International Maritime Bureau has exited Nigeria from its Piracy List.
“Nigeria has collaborated with other Gulf of Guinea navies to address the maritime security situation in the Gulf of Guinea.
“Nigeria has a robust and professional navy with historic tradition. The Nigerian Navy has continuously acquired new assets and has further improved its capabilities to maintain a large fleet and to operate far beyond its territorial waters.
“The state of the art Maritime Domain Awareness facilities comprising; the Falcon Eye and the Regional Maritime Awareness Capability Centres allow the Nigerian Navy to monitor its territorial waters and beyond.
“”It is on this note that I welcome the ships’ company of Italian Navy Ship RIZZO and the Spanish Navy Ship SERVIOLA as well as the Italian and Spanish government’s for the participatory approach in conducting maritime exercises with regional navies in the Gulf of Guinea in order to mitigate maritime crimes.
“The 2 naval ships are currently on port call to Lagos to run ashore as well as for replenishment of required logistics for further operations and voyage. I must reiterate that this is among series of port calls on Nigeria by international navies.
“I must also, applaud the Federal Government of Nigeria’s commitment and decisive initiative on the Deep Blue Project through which the Nigerian Armed Forces, the Nigeria Police and intelligence services are poised to tackle the menace of maritime insecurity in the waterways.”
In his welcome address, the Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral YB Wambai stated that the aim of the event is to further deepen the ties between Nigeria and European Union in the maritime domain, ultimately leading to a stronger strategic partnership in this field.
He said, “As you are all aware, the sea remains the most veritable means of transportation that nations, individuals and groups have exploited to prosper and become relevant.
“Pertinently, it is to be noted that a key requirement for use of this great common is the safety of the sea during traverse. Therefore, the Nigeria-European Union collaborative effort on maritime security is germane.
“”Working together is a sine qua non in the zeal to defend the seas by enhanced maritime security and safety needed to promote international trade, protect the environment and guarantee use of the Sea for legitimate businesses.
“Also, worthy of mention is the cordial relationship between Nigeria and the European Union that led to the deployment of Italian Navy Ship RIZZO and Spanish Navy Ship SERVIOLA on maritime security patrol mission in the Gulf of Guinea.
“Just recently, the Spanish Navy Ship MV VIGIA was in Nigeria to collaborate with Nigeria in its efforts towards a secured maritime environment. It is hoped that the continued collaboration would improve operational coordination and information sharing as well as joint training and capacity building exercises that is desired to enhance maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.”