Delta News

Nigerian Navy, others join forces against pirates, maritime criminals 

…Deploys 18 ships, three aircrafts for regional sea exercise

The Nigerian Navy (NN) on Wednesday joined forces with her counterparts from West, Central African countries, China, France and Portugal in an exercise to rid the Gulf of Guinea (GOG) region of pirates, crude oil thieves, traffickers and other maritime criminals.

The exercise code named EKU KUGBE and organised by the NN as part of activities to commemorate its 62 anniversary, saw the deployment of 18 ships, two helicopters and a Nigerian Air Force  (NAF) Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) across the GOG to operationalise existing maritime security framework.

Flagging off the exercise, the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin said it was critical towards sustaining the resources and huge potentials of the GOG, which are constantly undermined by domestic, cross-border and transnational threats that limit economic development of the region with adverse political consequences.

He said: “Major threats like piracy and attacks on shipping have become predominant in the region with negative consequences on the economy and overall wellbeing of GOG nations. The situation calls for measures to address it.

“I am happy to note that within the limits of available resources, the NN has been focused and proactive in combating the myriads of threats and illegal activities in Nigeria’s maritime domain extending to the GOG. It goes without saying however that, the protection of resources and economic activities in the GOG is a collective responsibility of all nations in the region.

“As a proactive measure, Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have established maritime security mechanisms. To facilitate the goals of the security mechanism, regional navies would need to operationalise existing maritime security framework.

“Exercise EKU KUGBE is therefore timely and instructive as it drives home, the importance of regional cooperation in confronting threats to our common interest. It would also foster the spirit of togetherness among regional and friendly navies in the task of restoring order in the GOG.”

In his welcome address, the Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas said the NN deployed 12 ships and two helicopters, adding that Cameroon, Ghana, Togo, China, France and Portugal each sent one a warship for the exercise.

“The NAF is also a participant with its MPA. The exercise is aimed at promoting regional cooperation and coordination for the enhancement of maritime security in the GOG, which is rich in both living and non-living resources, including oil and gas and fisheries.

“It is also the primary conduits of international trade and is central to the economy of the associated regions. The Gulf is increasingly looked upon today as resource provider and critical contributor to national growth and prosperity of the several nations lining its coasts.

“Indeed, the Gulf is faced with myriad of potent threats in and around its environment. 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. But 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 navies, as the primary element of the nations’ maritime power, have the challenging task of safeguarding their respective country’s maritime interests. This demands that they should be adequately positioned to provide round-the-clock protection for sea based critical national assets and also ensure security of the sea-lanes.

“In this regard, the navies must constantly be sharpening their capabilities as multi-dimensional, operationally-effective and balanced force that are capable of countering the full range of maritime challenges, and fulfilling their military, constabulary, diplomatic and benign roles effectively across the entire spectrum of conflict.

“It is in keeping with this concept that the NN 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 exercise EKU KUGBE is consolidating the advocated regional cooperation, which is increasingly the preferred approach to tackling threat migration across national borders. It is expected that the exercise will reinforce its importance as an initiative at forging a common front against a common threat.

“It is intended to enhance cooperation beyond and away from mock exercises, as well as continue the nurturing of spirit of togetherness in the task of restoring order in the GoG.”

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