Lieutenant General Azubuike Ihejirika
A joint multi-national sea exercise tagged "African Winds" aimed at showing readiness to flush out sea pirates, terrorists and crude oil thieves in the Nigerian waters was held at the Lagos Takwa Bay Beach Friday.
The exercise which was jointly carried out by Spain, UK, US, Netherlands and Nigeria, was in line with the objectives of the African Partnership Station (APS) to stamp out maritime illegalities.
After the exercise, the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba reiterated the Navy’s commitment to stamping out all illegalities from the nation's maritime domain, especially in the Gulf of Guinea.
Ezeoba described the joint exercise as a milestone recorded by the participating countries in the area of strategic partnership.
He said the exercise was aimed at ensuring a secure and safe maritime space, adding that there is no one country that can handle security challenges alone.
He said, "Maritime security is a primary responsibility of everybody because the oceans and seas of the world are common global heritage to mankind.
"The concerted efforts at the sub-regional and multi-regional levels are to ensure that we continue to cooperate and collaborate because that is a new paradigm in terms of security imperatives."
Ezeoba added that the exercise would further enhance their human capacity, which would enable the Navy develop technical expertise that will further create the impetus they need to enhance maritime security not just in Nigeria but in the Gulf of Guinea.
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Azubuike Ihejirika, while speaking to journalists at the event admitted that the Nigerian Armed Forces approached the war against insurgents on a wrong footing.
Though, he said some achievements had been recorded by the military in the war against insurgents, he added that the Nigerian Armed Forces is re-strategising with a view to tackling all security loopholes in the on-going war against terrorism, piracy, sea robbery and bunkering.
He said: "We went into the operation in the North East without joint deployment training. Nevertheless, I am impressed with level of cooperation so far.
"We have taken concrete measures to improve the level of effectiveness of the operation, such as ground-to-air communication to enable the Nigerian Army and Air force to communicate. This was not there before hand.
"Though, there has been limited success with the operation in the north east, but I hope there will be improvement soon."
Ihejirika expressed optimism that the skills acquired by the NA and the NN during the exercise alongside the experiences shared with the navies from four nations would enhance the war against insurgents and illegal bunkering.
The exercise which featured beach landing of the troops, attack on enemies’ strongholds and their successful arrest, is expected to be replicated in Calabar.
Troops were drawn from a platoon from the 65 battalion of the Nigerian Army Bonny Cantonment, Victoria Island and the Special Boat Services (SBS), Navy Town, Ojo. Arial coverage was provided by the Nigerian Navy Air Station, US Marine Corps, Nigerian Naval Ships and special landing boats from the Netherlands.
Guests at the events included Flag Officers Commanding Western, Central and Naval Training Commands, Rear Admirals Ibok-Ette Ibas, Sidi Usman and Levi Ajuonu respectively; Chief of Naval Training and Operations, Rear Admiral Babalola Ogunjimi and the General Officer Commanding, 81 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Obi Umahi.
Also at the event was the Fleet Commander, Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral LON Iwuoha; the Command Operating Officer, Commodore IO Mohammed; the Commanding Officer, NNS Beecroft, Commodore Chris Ezekobe, amongst others.