The Nigerian Navy has confirmed the successful deployment of assets acquired by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) under the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, popularly known as the ‘Deep Blue’ project.
The Navy revealed that these assets are now fully operational in the south west, central and eastern zonal operations, significantly enhancing the patrol and security of the Nigerian maritime domain.
The Acting Fleet Commander of the Western Naval Command and Commander of the Deep Blue Project, Commodore Victor Choji made this declaration during a working visit by Rear Admiral Mohammed Abdullahi, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) of the Western Naval Command, to the NIMASA management.
Commodore Choji also emphasised the Nigerian Navy’s unwavering commitment to the success of the Deep Blue Project under the leadership of Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, the Chief of Naval Staff.
“In line with our commitment, the assets have already been well deployed. As we speak, 5 armoured vehicles are deployed in Port Harcourt and 3 in Bonny,” he stated during the interactive session.
He further disclosed that the project team had recently deployed an additional 10 vehicles and a drone unit in Bonny, complemented by a dedicated team of personnel. He highlighted that the mere presence of the Deep Blue assets during the last general elections had proven highly effective in providing the required security and deterrence.
Turning his focus to the Central Zone Command, Commodore Choji revealed that three units of special mission elements and two interceptor boats with special intervention force elements had been successfully deployed in Brass. Additionally, following a recent directive, the Nigerian Navy is poised to deploy two interceptor boats in Lagos Inland waters to bolster ongoing operations.
The director-general of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, OFR, reaffirmed the agency’s commitment to fostering a robust relationship with the Nigerian Navy for the nation’s economic development.
“The agency and the Nigerian Navy share a common goal of ensuring safety and security in our waters. While the Nigerian Navy handles kinetic operations, NIMASA focuses on non-kinetic operations and both must work hand in hand for our collective success,” Jamoh asserted.
He also emphasised NIMASA’s desire to maximise the value of the funds invested in the Deep Blue Project and its ongoing liaisons with the National Assembly to update the nation’s maritime laws, particularly the Merchant Shipping Act. The goal is to ensure adequate punitive measures are in place to deter criminal activities in Nigerian waters.
Commending the Nigerian Navy for their efforts in tracking erring vessels that switch off their Automatic Identification System (AIS) in Nigerian waters, Jamoh called for improved synergy among all government organs in the maritime sector. He specifically emphasised the need for closer collaboration between the Nigerian Navy and the marine arm of the Nigerian Police to address recent criminal incidents in the Lagos anchorage and inland waters.
In his remarks, Rear Admiral Mohammed Abdullahi emphasised the significance of NIMASA as his first point of call since assuming duty as the FOC Western Naval Command. This underscores the importance that the Nigerian Navy attaches to its relationship with NIMASA.
“I am here to recognise the support and cooperation the Navy enjoys with the agency, and we still have a long way to go in actualising the mandate of safeguarding the Nigerian maritime sector,” the FOC stated.
He also pledged the continuous support of the Western Naval Command to NIMASA and expressed his anticipation for more cooperation in the coming years for the overall benefit of the nation.