The European Union has commended the Nigerian Government for providing leadership in the Gulf of Guinea in the war against criminality in the maritime sector, which is being won.
Speaking through its Senior Coordinator for the Gulf of Guinea, Ambassador Nicolas Martinez, EU assured that it would not relent in its support for Nigeria in the anti-piracy battle.
The commendation came at the end of a working visit to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) by the EU delegation, which inspected assets under the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, otherwise known as the deep blue project.
Martinez said: ‘We support Nigeria’s leadership in the regional quest to end piracy and other maritime crimes. You can count on the EU as we are fully supportive of the Yaounde Infrastructure. We urge Nigeria to share experience with other countries in the region. It is obvious from the results so far that Nigeria, providing leadership for other countries, is winning the war against piracy’.
He pledged that the EU remains a committed partner to the Gulf of Guinea region and would continue to provide extensive and targeted assistance to strengthen the critical features of the Yaoundé security architecture, while cementing the long-standing relationship between member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) like Nigeria and the EU.
At the reception for the EU delegation, the Director General NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh noted that the recent removal of Nigeria from the piracy list by the International Maritime Bureau was as a result of collective efforts of various stakeholders within and outside of the country.
‘It is not yet time to celebrate. Now the focus for us at NIMASA is sustainability. The improved intelligence gathering and sharing amongst all stakeholders played a major role in the results we are witnessing now. Our Deep Blue Project, the SPOMO (Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences) Act enacted by the National Assembly, the convictions of criminals under the SPOMO Act, the commitment of the Nigerian Navy and other military arms of the Nigerian Armed Forces, not forgetting the support from the international community, all led to the reduction of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea’, he said.
Jamoh further said that NIMASA was already looking ahead in its quest to attain sustainability. ‘We are working on an International Maritime Sustainability Conference which we will be hosting in Abuja later this year; also a comprehensive National Maritime policy for Nigeria is in the pipeline’.
Commenting on the Deep Blue Project, Jamoh disclosed that the Japanese Government has pledged US$2.4 million in support, just as the Korean Government has donated a warship to NIMASA to add to the fleet for the project.
The Martinez delegation, which included members of selected EU member-states, were conducted on an inspection tour of the Deep Blue project assets at the Nigerian Navy Diving School by the NIMASA DG and senior management staff of the Agency. They also witnessed an organised drill put on by the Nigerian Navy showcasing some of the assets in action.
The Deep Blue project, which was initiated jointly by the Federal Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Defence, is being implemented by NIMASA. Its main objective is to secure Nigerian waters up to the Gulf of Guinea.