According to the Nigerian Navy, assets obtained through the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, known as the Deep Blue project, have been strategically deployed across the South West, Central, and Eastern Zonal operations.
This deployment aims to bolster the patrolling capabilities of the Nigerian maritime domain.
Commodore Victor Choji, the Acting Fleet Commander of the Western Naval Command and Commander of the Deep Blue Project, made this announcement during a visit by Rear Admiral Mohammed Abdullahi, the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC) of the Western Naval Command, to the management of NIMASA.
Commodore Choji emphasized that the Nigerian Navy, led by Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, the Chief of Naval Staff, is fully dedicated to ensuring the success of the Deep Blue Project.
During the discussion session, he said, “The assets have already been well deployed. As we speak 5 armored vehicles are deployed in Port Harcourt and 3 in Bonny”.
He continued, revealing that the project team had taken further actions by deploying an additional 10 vehicles and a drone unit to Bonny, along with some personnel. During the last general elections, the presence of deep blue assets alone in those areas had provided the required inference, as he hinted.
Regarding the Central Zone Command, Choji mentioned that the Navy had deployed 3 units of special mission elements in brass and two interceptor boats with the special intervention force elements in central command.
He added that they had received a directive to deploy 2 interceptor boats in Lagos Inland waters just last week to support ongoing operations in the region. He emphasized that the Nigerian Navy fully supported the success of the Deep Blue Project.
The Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, OFR, reiterated the Agency’s commitment to maintaining a robust relationship with the Nigerian Navy, contributing to the economic development of the country.
“I want to 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 emphasized NIMASA’s commitment to maximizing the value of funds invested in the ongoing Deep Blue Project while also continuing to invest in its operations.
He highlighted the Agency’s active engagement with the National Assembly to ensure necessary updates to the nation’s maritime laws, particularly the Merchant Shipping Act.
The goal is to establish stringent punitive measures that will effectively deter criminal activities in Nigerian waters.
Dr. Jamoh applauded the Nigerian Navy’s efforts in tracking and dealing with vessels that switch off their Automatic Identification System (AIS) in Nigerian waters.
However, he called for enhanced collaboration and synergy among all government bodies involved in the maritime sector.
Specifically, he urged the Nigerian Navy and the marine arm of the Nigerian Police to work together more effectively to address recent criminal incidents in the Lagos anchorage and inland waters.
The FOC (Flag Officer Commanding) echoed the significance of the relationship between the Nigerian Navy and NIMASA, making the Agency his first point of contact since assuming duty as the FOC Western Naval Command. This underscores the mutual importance both entities place on their partnership.
“I am here in recognition of the support and cooperation the Navy enjoys with the Agency and we still have a long way to go in order to actualize the mandate of safeguarding the Nigerian maritime sector”, the FOC said.
He took advantage of the occasion to reaffirm the Command’s unwavering commitment to supporting the Agency. Moreover, he expressed anticipation for enhanced collaboration in the forthcoming years, all for the greater benefit of the nation.