The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Adm. Awwal Gambo, today said that the International Maritime Bureau had removed Nigeria from its piracy list.
Gambo, represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Naval Headquarters, Abuja, Rear Adm. Suleiman Garba, spoke at the Joint Nigeria-European Union collaborative ceremony in Lagos.
The Naval chief said that the feat was achieved in collaboration with other agencies following increased maritime security operations against criminalities.
“The commitment of the Nigerian Navy toward maritime security has yielded dividends and a lot has been achieved to safeguard the Gulf of Guinea.
“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.
“The Nigerian Navy has continuously acquired new assets and further improved its capabilities to maintain a large fleet as well as operate far beyond its territorial waters,” he said.
Gambo added that Nigeria has continued to have a robust and professional navy with historic tradition, collaborating with other Gulf of Guinea navies to address maritime security.
“A notable result from the collaboration is the arrest of 10 pirates whose jail terms are secured for hijacking a Chinese fishing vessel, FV HAI LU FENG II, off Cote D’Ivoire in May 2020,” he said.
The Naval boss said that a state of the art Maritime Domain Awareness Facilities comprising; the Falcon Eye and the Regional Maritime Awareness Capability Centres allowed the Nigerian Navy to monitor its territorial waters and beyond.
“I applaud the Federal Government’s commitment and decisive initiative on the Deep Blue Project to tackle the menace of insecurity in the waterways.
“I also commend the European Union (EU) for the fundamental support and partnership in operationalising the Yaoundé Code of Conduct through diverse programmes and initiatives toward capacity development in the Gulf of Guinea.
“We have engaged with you in notable programmes such as the support to West Africa Integrated Maritime Security which only this week donated 30 Rigid Hulled Inflatable Boats to 12 West African coastal states,” he said.
Gambo appreciated the EU’s coordinated maritime presence which complemented other maritime security programmes and projects in the Gulf of Guinea.
He called 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.
“I also welcome Italian Navy Ship, RIZZO, and the Spanish Navy Ship, SERVIOLA, as well as the Italian and Spanish governments for their participatory approach in conducting maritime exercises in the Gulf of Guinea.
“The two naval ships are currently on port call to Lagos to run ashore and for replenishment of required logistics for further operations and voyage,” he said.
The EU Senior Coordinator for Gulf of Guniea, Mr Nicolas Berlanga, said that collaborating with the Nigerian Navy would help protect the freedom of investment and improve economic development.
“It is good that we coordinate internally and engage strategically with the Nigerian Navy.
“We will work together and offer our partnership to the Nigerian Navy for continued strengthening of security around the Gulf of Guniea.
“This is important and it will be of benefit because freedom of navigation and investment of economic activities is also our freedom,” Berlanga added.