To further improve security on the country’s territorial waters, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has launched its Command, Control Computer Communication and Information (C41) operation centre.
The C4I system, also called the Deep Blue Project, is expected to eliminate, or at least reduce the scourge of piracy and other criminality in the Gulf of Guinea, particularly in the Nigerian maritime domain, and totally eliminate the incidental insurance premium and other country-specific charges on Nigeria-bound cargo.
Director-General of NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside, during the official opening of the centre in Lagos, said the C4I centre would create maximum security, strong surveillance as well as low freight costs, as there will be increased port calls due to a high level of security.
Furthermore, he said the Federal Government has deployed more intervention vessels and helicopters to tackle maritime illegalities. The facilities, which he said would arrive the country soon would be stationed at the Gulf of Guinea (GoG), and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for effective surveillance of the waterways.
Peterside noted that the present threat posed by insecurity on the maritime domain accompanied by the need to support Nigeria’s economic renaissance led to the bi-ministerial collaboration of the ministries of defence and transportation under the supervision of the Office of the National Security Adviser to the President.
He said the collaboration aims to develop a robust maritime security architecture comprising all military and security services to ensure a conducive and sustainable environment for maritime businesses.
Represented by the Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Gambo Ahmed, he affirmed that Nigeria is combat-ready to reduce sea crimes to its barest minimum, adding that surveillance and intelligence gathering are critical components in the drive to improve maritime safety and security.
Also speaking on the development, Executive Director, Operations, Rotimi Fashakin, represented by Head, Shipping Development, Anthony Ogadi, said the launch of the centre demonstrates NIMASA and the Federal Government’s commitment to curbing insecurity in Nigerian waters.
He commended the efforts of those involved in the project is pursuing the laudable initiative, adding that the launch opened a new victory for all stakeholders in the fight against maritime insecurity
The centre will serve as the base for situation intelligence for the deep blue project manned by 40 trained personnel, who made a short display of their swift response to arrest illegal vessels perpetrating the nation’s waterways.
Also speaking, Micky Gnash of the Homeland Security International (HLSI), consultants to the project gave the composition of graduates as 110 officers and men of the Nigerian Army, and 198 officers and men of the Nigerian Navy.
“They were trained on combat-related courses, ranging from physical training, sharpshooting techniques and ability to use the arm from a range, bare hands fighting in open terrain, built-up areas and in the bush.”
He added that the training was tailored towards empowering them for the enormous task of safeguarding the Nigerian territorial waterways.