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Nigerian Navy, ECOWAS sign MOU on Joint Maritime Patrol; As NIMASA hands over Rescue Helicopter

The Chief of the Naval Staff Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the heads of the Navies of the Republics of Benin, Togo and the Higher Commander of the Gendarmerie of Niger Republic for the implementation of Joint patrol of the Maritime Zone “E”.
The event took place on Thursday, 30 August 2018, during the meeting of the Chiefs of the Naval Staff of the ECOWAS Zone E and Higher Commander of the Gendarmerie of Niger at HQ of Multinational Maritime Coordinating Centre, Cotonou, Benin Republic.
The Memorandum is to revisit amongst others, the 2011 and 2012 Resolutions of the United Nations Security Council on the suppression of acts of piracy attacks against shipping and other illegalities at Sea.
The 8 page – document which is divided into 11 Articles, established cooperation for Joint Maritime Patrol through the pooling together of both material and human resources to enhance the security of the maritime area of the ECOWAS Zone E countries, consisting of Benin, Niger, Nigeria and Togo.
The Maritime area of ECOWAS Zone E which consists of international and territorial waters under the respective jurisdiction of the states of Benin, Nigeria and Togo is coordinated by the Multinational Maritime Coordinating Centre in Cotonou, Benin Republic.
A statement by Commodore Ayo Olugbode, Director of Naval Information quotes the Chief of the Naval Staff Vice Admiral Ibas saying the agreement was in furtherance of the vision of Heads of Government of the Zone E countries to secure their common sea area for the blue economy to thrive.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has handed over its 16-seater AW149 Search and Rescue helicopter to the Nigeria Navy for better maritime domain security.
The handover, according to NIMASA’s Executive Director Operations, Rotimi Fasakin, followed a directive from President Muhammadu Buhari that the helicopter which was acquired by NIMASA in 2007 be handed over to the Navy.
The helicopter which was developed and produced principally by AgustaWesland, now Leonardo Helicopters, has twin engines and the capability to perform different roles such as Search and Rescue, VIP airlift, offshore transport, firefighting, maritime patrol, law enforcement, emergency medical service and disaster relief.
Speaking at the Naval Air Base Ojo Friday evening, Fasakin noted that the aircraft, which could perform some military operations, had always been domiciled with the navy.
He said although the navy always had operational control over it, with the presidential directive, all documents and other accessories of the helicopter would be handed over to the service.
“It has been a long journey. The helicopter was purchased by NIMASA in April 2007. Two years after its purchase, NIMASA entered into a MoU with the navy. Since then, both agencies have had strong partnership in safeguarding the nation’s maritime domain.
“Ever since the aircraft was purchased, it has been under the operational management of the NN. The aircraft is also suited for a few military operations so, the president in his wisdom deemed it fit that NIMASA formally hands over to the navy and that is what we have done.
“Since its acquisition, the RESCUE 1 has flown a total of 243 hours and 45 minutes. It has been successfully deployed for various operations.
“The partnership with the NN has been very strong, effective, effectual and efficient. It has helped to give NIMASA the needed teeth to bite within the Nigeria maritime space. It has helped NIMASA carry out its constitutional mandates.”
Receiving the helicopter on behalf of the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) Vice Admiral Ibok-Ette Ibas, the Chief of Training and Operations, Rear Admiral Abdullahi Kadiri said the Nigerian Navy would ensure the aircraft continued to serve the purposes for which it was acquired.
He said the essence of the handover was to ensure more effective use of the patrol craft, adding that both agencies were collaborating for better governance of the nation’s maritime space.
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