Assets acquired by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) under the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, otherwise known as the Deep Blue project, have been deployed across the Southwest, Central and Eastern Zonal operations to enhance patrol of the Nigerian maritime domain, Nigerian Navy has said.
Commodore Victor Choji, the acting Fleet Commander of Western Naval Command and Commander of Deep Blue Project, made the declaration, during a working visit by the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Mohammed Abdullahi to the Management of NIMASA.
He said the Nigerian Navy under the leadership of the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla is fully committed to the success of the Deep Blue Project.
“The assets have already been well deployed. As we speak five armoured vehicles are deployed in Port Harcourt and three in Bonny,” he said.
According to him, the project team deployed 10 more vehicles in addition to a drone unit in Bonny and some personnel.
He further disclosed that during the last general elections in the country, the mere presence of deep blue assets in those locations provided the inference that was required.
Choji also said that in the Central Zone Command, the Navy has deployed three units of special mission elements in brass and two of the interceptor boats with the special intervention force elements in central command.
“In Lagos, just last week, we got a directive that there is a requirement, and we are about to deploy two interceptor boats to support the operations that are ongoing in Lagos Inland waters. I can state categorically that we have the full backing of the Nigerian Navy for the success of the Deep Blue Project,” he added.
On his part, Bashir Jamoh, the director general of NIMASA said the assets acquired by the Agency under the Deep Blue Project are all managed by a project team headed by a Commodore of the Nigerian Navy.
He restated the Agency’s commitment to a robust relationship with the Nigerian Navy towards the economic development of the country.
“I believe that the Agency and the Nigerian Navy have a lot in common to ensure safety and security in the nation’s waters. While the Nigerian Navy takes care of the kinetic operations, NIMASA concentrates on non-kinetic operations, and the two will have to go hand in hand if we must succeed. If you look at the Armed Forces Act, the Nigerian Navy has a role to play in ensuring the implementation and enforcement of the NIMASA and Customs & Excise Act,” he said.
Jamoh expressed the desire of NIMASA to earn full value for funds invested and still invest in the operations of the Deep Blue Project.
He also noted that the Agency is in constant liaison with the National Assembly to ensure an update of the nation’s maritime laws with particular reference to the Merchant Shipping Act to guarantee adequate punitive measures are in the law to deter criminalities on Nigerian waters.
While commending the Nigerian Navy for their efforts in tracking erring vessels that switched off their Automatic Identification System, AIS, in Nigerian waters, Jamoh called for improved synergy among all organs of government in the maritime sector.
He called the Nigerian Navy and the marine arm of the Nigerian Police to quickly tackle head-on; pockets of recent criminalities in the Lagos anchorage and inland waters.