By Steve Agbota
President Muhammadu Buhari has said that Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure known as Deep Blue Project will cripple maritime insecurity on Nigerian waters up to the Gulf of Guinea (GoG).
He said that the new maritime security assets would put an end to war risk surcharge paid to International shipping companies due to Nigeria being categorised as as war risk country.
President Buhari said that the federal government has also secured ten convictions for various maritime offences since the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Act was signed into law in June 2019.
The president disclosed this at the official flag-off of the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure in Nigeria also known as the Deep Blue Project at the ENL Terminal, Apapa Port, Lagos.
‘I am confident that the project, which provides a robust maritime security architecture, will enhance maritime domain awareness capability and improve law enforcement action, particularly in the prosecution of suspects under the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Act which I signed into law in June 2019,’ he said.
‘This flag-off is an important step in the continuing shift in strategic action about regional maritime security.
‘It will serve as a benchmark for member states in the Gulf of Guinea and other relevant stakeholders to further develop innovative strategies and align efforts with the subsisting framework to improve maritime security in the region.’
Meanwhile, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said the project was a dream come true, adding that he faced several oppositions in the course, including some lites in the system who he alleged have been making money from the insecurity menace.
Amaechi said the facilities comprises of four components -marine assets; aerial assets; land assets and the Command Control Computer Communication intelligence (C4i).
He said they are huge in cost and very sensitive assets, which must be properly serviced and maintained.
However, Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Bashir Jamoh, described the deep blue project as “mission accomplished.’
He said the project was aimed at ensuring safer waterways so that businesses can thrive and ultimate boost the national economy.
He applauded President Buhari for signing the Anti-Piracy Bill into law, adding that it has convicted about 10 offenders for the first time, under the law.
According to him, NIMASA is working closely with international community to curtail criminality in the country’s exclusive economic zone.
He said pirate attacks have reduced from mid-February this year, urging the shipping firms to review the war risk insurance to Nigeria.
On his part, the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (retd), stated that with the Deep Blue Project safety is guaranteed in the maritime sector and this would attract Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) in maritime.
He described the C4i intelligence centre as the heart of the project, adding that with the operation of C4i and the entire project, piracy in the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and the entire maritime space will be addressed.
Magashi said there is need to make judicious use of the Deep Blue Project assets and advised that proper maintenance be provided to ensure the benefits of the project are fully optimised.