The Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas has called on navies in the West African Sub-Region to develop a common network that would facilitate greater integration for seamless information sharing across the entire sub-region. Vice Admiral Ibas gave this charge at the opening ceremony of the 60th Anniversary of the Ghana Navy.
Admiral Ibas emphasized that it would equally be expedient for member countries to reduce the bureaucracy required to share information, train personnel in common official language used by member nations as well as develop and share data regarding convicted offenders of maritime crimes. These measures, he posited, would greatly enhance maritime operations and the collective desire to rid the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) of criminality within the shortest possible time. While reiterating the commitment of the Nigerian Navy (NN) to emplace a secure maritime environment for the prosperity of Nigeria, the GoG countries and the global commons in general, Admiral Ibas offered that the availability of the Regional Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) Training School in Lagos-Nigeria is another prospect to be harnessed by member countries.
He also highlighted some NN independent operational engagements established to check criminality at sea, including Operation TSARE TEKU and Operation RIVER SWEEP, stating that since the activation of the anti-piracy operation 3 years ago, there has been a successive decline in reported cases of pirate/sea robbery attacks within Nigeria’s maritime domain.
The CNS pointed out that apart from the 2 specifically designed operations, the NN has continued to conduct policing patrols across the nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and territorial waters employing the advantage of its MDA infrastructure to coordinate and direct the pattern of patrols. According to him, the Service is thus able to conduct round the clock surveillance of Nigeria’s maritime space using the Regional Maritime Awareness Capability (RMAC) and the Falcon Eye (FE) facilities in addition to surface vessels and helicopters.
Admiral Ibas stressed that the Service recently signed an MoU on white shipping with the Indian Navy, has applied to join the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium and participated in the establishment of a mechanism for sharing maritime information with regional navies and maritime regulatory agencies at the Maritime Trade Information Sharing Centre in Ghana. He also stated that these strategic partnerships have the potential to further increase NN domain awareness across both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, with positive impact on surveillance capacity to facilitate NN policing duties.
Furthermore, the CNS disclosed that the NN engages regularly with various maritime stakeholders in Nigeria in fostering a shared vision on the accomplishment of maritime security tasks and information sharing which has led to the successful arrest and prosecution of several cases. He informed that one positive outcome of such consultation with the maritime stakeholders was the launching of the Harmonised Standard Operating Procedure (HSOP) on Arrest, Detention and Prosecution of Vessels and Persons (HSOP AD&P) in Nigeria’s Maritime Environment in January 2017. According to Admiral Ibas, the NN constantly engages directly with each agency on modalities for implementation and that has resulted in the arrest of over 130 vessels within the past 2 years.
According to the CNS, the HSOP was further boosted as a legal instrument for the administration of maritime crimes in Nigeria by Mr President’s recent assent to the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Bill of 2019. The Act would serve as strategic deterrent to the commission of various criminalities within the nation’s maritime environment and curtail the excesses of syndicates that continue to profit from sponsoring acts of piracy within the GoG.
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