Nigeria has announced a new project in order to protect its maritime domain and mitigate pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea.
Nigeria President, Muhammadu Buhari launched the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, also called the Deep Blue Project, in Lagos with a declaration that Nigeria now boasted better capability to control its maritime domain.
The Deep Blue Project is an initiative of Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Transportation and Federal Ministry of Defence, and it is being implemented by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), with personnel drawn from the Nigerian Air Force, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Army, Nigeria Police, Department of State Services, and other security agencies.
The main goals of the project are to prevent illegal activities in Nigeria’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), enforce maritime regulations, enhance safety of lives at sea, and prevent illegal activities in the inland waterways.
The project has land, sea, and air assets meant to comprehensively tackle maritime security issues in Nigerian waters up to the Gulf of Guinea.
Buhari said the maritime security project offered a standard for other Gulf of Guinea countries in terms of strategy and collaboration.
Referring to the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act, which he signed into law in June 2019, the President said, “I am confident that the project, which provides a robust maritime security architecture, will enhance maritime domain awareness capability and improve law enforcement action.”
Buhari said the flag-off of the Deep Blue Project was “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.”
He also added that the new project will support the countries of the region to tackle security challenges in the form of piracy and other maritime crimes in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea
Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Kitack Lim, extolled Nigeria’s role in the effort to achieve security in the Gulf of Guinea. Lim said the launch of the maritime security infrastructure was a major development in the war against piracy.
He said the Deep Blue Project reflected Nigeria’s determination to lead the fight against piracy and armed robbery, not only in its national waters, but also in the Gulf of Guinea. Lim also stated that IMO was committed to supporting Nigeria in the search for a safe and secure maritime industry.
The Round Table of Shipowner Associations and the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) have also welcomed the new project against piracy, expressing their full support for the launch of Nigeria’s Deep Blue Project.