Bashir Jamoh, director-general, Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency (NIMASA), says the country recorded zero sea robbery and piracy attacks in its waterways since the last quarter of 2021.
Jamoh made this known during a press briefing at the state house on Thursday in Abuja.
According to the director-general, this feat was achieved following the deployment of an integrated national security and waterways protection infrastructure in Nigeria, codenamed the Deep Blue project powered by NIMASA.
President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the Deep Blue project in 2021 to ensure that the country’s waters and the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) are safe and secured.
He said a similar feat was also recorded in the entire Gulf of Guinea, noting that there had not been a piracy attack since March.
“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 a piracy attack. From the last quarter of 2021 till date, it’s over a year now, no single attack,” he said.
“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.’’
Jamoh said Nigeria has continued to receive support from the international community, including the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
“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,” the director-general said.
“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 a piracy attack since March.”
He further said there are ground and air patrols around Nigeria’s waterways through the Deep Blue Project to ensure the safety of ships and lives on board.
“The regime introduced the Deep Blue Project, where we had to buy a number of various platforms,” he said.
“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.”
Jamoh said NIMASA had taken delivery of three special mission helicopters and 16 armoured vehicles specifically meant for creeks.
According to him, the vehicles have special features and can enter the creeks to search for criminals.
“We also have two special mission aircraft with 24-hour special cameras, which they use to film any place or environment and send the signals immediately,” he added.
He further noted that NIMASA had embarked on removing wrecks and maritime litter.
“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,” he said.
“We sent the plan to the International Maritime Organisation, they approved it, 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 Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) to have weather forecasts for our own maritime domain in order to ensure the safety of navigation in our waters.”
According to Jamoh, NIMASA has enjoyed support from Japan and the Korean Republic, even as Japan assisted the agency with $2.7 million for building ships.
He said 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.