By Eromosele Abiodun
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, has stated that the federal government is determined to ensure that the country’s territorial waters are free of piracy and all forms of maritime crime in order to facilitate economic development.
He made this known while speaking at a graduation ceremony held at the Nigerian Maritime Resource Development Centre (NMRDC) in Lagos.
In its effort to rid the Nigerian maritime domain of criminalities, he said the federal government through the agency has undertaken surveillance training for officers from the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force, Nigeria Police, the Department of State Services (DSS), and NIMASA, on the C4I Integrated Surveillance Systems operation.
The system, he stated, will aid the coordinated view of the entire Nigerian maritime domain.
Peterside, added that the C4I Integrated Surveillance Systems operation, organised by the agency in conjunction with an Israeli security firm, HLSi Security Systems and Technologies Limited, was another step towards building human capacity for the maritime industry, particularly the Deep Sea project.
”As part of our efforts towards tackling piracy and other maritime crimes, which continue to constitute threats to vessels plying our territorial waters, the C4I System Operator Course is a part of the ‘Total Maritime Security Strategy’ adopted under this management to give us the best eye view of our domain and ultimately halt insecurity in order to ensure that our maritime industry optimises its potential of contributing majorly to Nigeria’s economic growth,” he said.
While noting that crime free waters would further boost the investment opportunities in the nation’s blue economy, he added that the Agency was aware of the issues that made the Gulf of Guinea one of the most challenging maritime domains in terms of security.
This, he said, was why NIMASA was attacking the issue on all fronts, including sponsoring a bill that will make cases relating to piracy and other sea crimes to be decisively dealt with to serve as a deterrent to potential perpetrators.
He added that effective surveillance would aid quick response time to crime scenes, especially with the Agency’s possession of fast intervention vessels. He said all these put together would encourage investors and make the Nigerian maritime sector an investment hub.
In his remarks, the Nigerian Representative of HLSI, Mr Mickey Gaash, commended the participants for their exemplary conduct during the programme. Gaash said the training was the first in the series, saying it would be followed by advanced training on surveillance
He also commended the NIMASA management for its dedication and commitment to ending piracy, not only in the Nigerian territorial waters, but also in the entire Gulf of Guinea.
The first batch of 22 graduates from the programme, who are to proceed to the intelligence gathering stage of the training schedule, were selected from all the participating armed forces branches and security agencies including the Army, Navy, Air Force, DSS and NIMASA.
The Deep Blue Project, which has the establishment of an integrated national security and waterways protection infrastructure in Nigeria at its heart, has the advantage of providing an eagle eye view of the entire Nigerian maritime domain.