France, China, Others Collaborate with Nigeria Navy in Curbing Maritime Crimes on Gulf of Guinea

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Chiemelie Ezeobi

As part of moves to curb incidences of maritime crimes on the Gulf of Guinea (GOG) waters, especially piracy and sea robbery, the Nigerian Navy (NN) Wednesday launched a collaboration with France, China, Portugal and three other African navies.

The collaboration was the flag off a regional maritime exercise code named Exercise EKU KEGBE, of which 12 Nigerian Navy ships, alongside others from the participating countries were deployed.

The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ette Ibas made this disclosure at the commemoration of the navy’s 62nd anniversary, which was held onboard Nigerian Navy ship (NNS) OKPABANA at the Naval Dockyard Limited, Lagos.

While noting that the exercise was also aimed at promoting regional cooperation, Ibas said other participating countries includes
Cameroon, Ghana and Togo.

He said, “This operation also enjoys the support of other friendly navies beyond the Economic Community of West African States and Economic Community of Central African States Regions.

“Twelve navy ships and one each from Cameroon, Ghana, Togo, China, France and Portugal will participate in the maritime exercise.

“The exercise is aimed at promoting regional cooperation and coordination for the enhancement of maritime security in the GOG as it is rich in both living and non-living resources, including oil and gas and fisheries.

“The GOG is also the primary conduits of international trade and is central to the economy of the associated regions and it is increasingly looked upon today as resource provider and critical contributor to national growth and prosperity of the several nations lining its coasts and even those landward and with no shared boundaries.’’

Despite these inherent potentials, Ibas lamented that the GOG is faced with myriad of potent threats in and around its environment.

He said, “These include maritime terrorism, resource theft and sabotage of their supporting infrastructure.

“Other notable threats are piracy and armed robbery, which target maritime trade, and therefore the economy of the nations.

“The use of unregulated movements at sea for seaborne trafficking in humans, narcotics and arms, and the incidents of smuggling are pervasive and remain issues of grave concern.

“It is imperative that an environment conducive for the unhindered conduct of shipping, fishing and offshore exploration and other maritime interests that contribute vitally to economic growth and national development is established.’’

The CNS said it was in keeping with this concept that the navy and indeed all of these contingents conduct frequent reinvention.

“Lately, a lot of efforts have been committed to strengthening regional maritime security frameworks for the purpose of prosecuting the contemporary and future threats on a collaborative model.

“This is expected to improve maritime order and governance in this part of the global commons, strengthen confidence of sea fearers and investors, and stimulate economic activities in safe environment.

“Thus EX EKU KEGBE is consolidating the advocated regional cooperation, which is increasingly the preferred approach to tackling threat migration across national borders,’ he added.

The Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, who flagged off the exercise, said it was critical towards sustaining the resources and huge potentials of the GOG.

He said, “I am happy to note that within the limits of available resources, the navy has been focused and pro-active in combating the myriads of threats and illegal activities in Nigeria’s maritime domain extending to the GOG.

“A sea exercise such as the one we are about to embark on, can only take place when the ships are operational.

“I therefore congratulate the navy and all the other participating nations on their ability to maintain their assets and make them operationally ready for the exercise.

“As you proceed, I implore you to be alert to your responsibilities and charge you to put in your best in order to maximize the opportunity and consolidate the gains achieved towards securing our collective maritime domain.”

Present at the flag off ceremony was the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai; the Flag Officers Commanding, Western Naval Command and Naval Training Command, Rear Admirals Sylvanus Abbah and Obi Ofodile, respectively, alongside other senior military officers both serving and retired.