By Barnabas Esiet
As part of efforts to comprehensively tackle insecurity on Nigeria’s territorial waters, the Federal Government is set to deploy integrated maritime security infrastructure also know as the “Blue Project”.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, disclosed this at a forum in Lagos ahead of the launch the Deep Blue Project.
The Minister used the occasion to also explained government’s decision to terminate the existing private security initiative known as the secure anchorage project, operated outside the country’s port system.
He said in the new arrangements, all ships coming into the country must anchor at the national ports under the supervision of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
Amaechi, reiterated President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s determination to tackle maritime insecurity head-on noting that the Deep Blue Project, when fully operational, would drastically reduce piracy and other crimes within Nigeria’s maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea.
“Recall that we secured an approval from the Federal Executive Council to introduce a maritime security architecture, which is coming to fruition. We engaged the Homeland Security International (HLSI), who are only to provide training and equipment, while the Nigerian Navy would lead the Police, Nigerian Army and Department of State Services, among others that would run the equipment.” He said.
While giving a breakdown of the assets being installed under the Deep Blue Project, the Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Peterside Dakuku, said 80 per cent of the assets required for the takeoff of the total spectrum maritime security architecture would be deployed by June.
He disclosedd that a good number of the assets have already arrived the country, including six interceptor boats, six armoured aircraft and a special mission vessel while the first special mission aircraft will be in the country before the end of the first quarter of 2020.
In his words, “We expect the first helicopter in the first quarter of this year, almost all the communication gadgets are in the country as well as the Personal Protective Gear (PPG), the C4i centre is fully operational in Kirikiri, the NIMASA Research Centre, those are the assets we have on ground.”
Dakuku said the first set of training for C4i operators and intelligence officers had been concluded and basic infantry training for soldiers who would fight on land around the littoral areas has also been concluded as the soldiers await deployment.