The Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Jason Gbassa, has said that Nigeria recorded only four piracy incidences in the third quarter of 2021.
According to Rear Admiral Gbassa, one of such attacks occurred within the Western Naval Command area of responsibility.
Quoting the International Maritime Bureau, the FOC said there was over 76 per cent reduction in the incidences of sea crimes.
“Initiatives such as the prompt allocation of petroleum oil lubrication product, availability of ships, which enhance operations and synergy with other stakeholders, as well as collaboration with our foreign partners”
Gbassa said Nigeria also transited from the secured anchorage area regime operated by a private maritime logistics and security company to the Lagos anchorage area, policed by the Nigerian Navy.
He said: “In conjunction with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and Nigerian Port Authority, the Nigerian Navy has been able to effectively secure the anchorage area set for shipping activities.
“Inasmuch as these activities are heart-warming, the Nigerian Navy is not resting on its oars, more so efforts are ongoing on the recapitalisation of the Nigerian Navy fleet.
“The effort is geared towards having the right set of ships for tasking, including survey vessels, to enhance our hydrographic efforts as well as logistics platforms to effectively support our operations.”
The FOC, however, said one of the prominent challenges facing the command was the lack of a dedicated holding bay for arrested vessels.
He noted that this had made the administration of arrested vessels cumbersome.
Gbassa said: “Additionally, many of the ships encountered at sea while on patrol are usually found wanting for minor infractions such as switching off their Automatic Identification System.
“Arresting such ships could be counter-productive in the long run.
“Accordingly, efforts can be made to introduce administrative fines of such defaulters in our waters to deter this practices.”
Furthermore, Chairman House Committee on Navy, Rt. Hon Yusuf Adamu Gagdi and other members of the House of Representatives undertook a tour of projects and facilities in Western Naval Command, as part of their oversight function.
The committee also evaluate the operational efficiency of the Nigerian Navy in curbing maritime criminalities.
Hon Yusuf Adamu Gagdi, commended the Western Naval Command for keeping to quality implementation of projects.
“As a committee, we will continue to do our utmost best by allocating resources and revenue to the Nigerian Navy in order to ensure optimal performance in their responsibility,” Gagdi said.
The Chairman said the committee was pursuing an amendment in the Armed Forces Act to give power to the Navy to prosecute maritime-related offences.
“This will go a long way at improving the operational and administrational capacity of the Nigerian Navy,” he added.
Gagdi said the House had passed the Maritime Trust Fund to the Nigerian Navy so that over-dependence on the yearly appropriation would be reduced to the barest minimum.
“The trust fund is expected to last for eight years just like we have the Police Trust Fund where money will be generated from some of the maritime-related activities as well as one per cent of the consolidated revenue,” he said.
Gagdi called for more interagency collaboration and advised against interagency rivalry which, he said, existed among stakeholders in the maritime domain.
He said: “The Constitution donates Nigerian sea to the Nigerian Navy because the primary responsibility of Navy is to protect the nation’s integrity by sea.
“Therefore, any agency that is operating in the sea should be subject to the powers of the Nigerian Navy.”
In addition, the FOC received troops of the Maritime Component of Operation LAFIYA DOLE, who have completed their tour of duty in the North East Operation.
Commander Omotosho extensively lead a presentation on the area of responsibility of Western Naval Command, stretches from the Unit of the Nigerian maritime boundary with Benin, Republic, and longitude 002 degrees 40mins East to the entrance to Benin River into the Atlantic Ocean and the longitude 005. Degrees East.
According to him, “this covers the coastline of a 154-meter mile and the maritime area of 30,800 square meter miles of the command to police. While implementing the specific objectives of the chief of naval staff strategy directive, the command adopted a pragmatic approach which entails the current utilization of limited resources, including a platform to accomplish assigned tasks,
Highlights of our activities include sustained presence at sea, and our journey waterways, arrest of vessels, anti-piracy operation, anti-illegal bunkering operation, and surveillance operation 8- civil authority participation in local and international exercises diplomatic engagement provision of amnesty”
“The Command has continued to optimize the use of the assigned sea platform to maintain a presence in the area of responsibility ships that were seized were a total of 4326 hours 17 minutes from January – August 2021 while the boat achieve 9763 patrol hours during this period”
This indicates an increased presence at sea compared to 2020 this was achieved through a series of initiatives such as allocation of POL (Petroleum Oil & Lubricant) by the Naval Headquarter. The effect has led to the arrest of 3 ships comprising MV ERINNA, MT BRISKA, & MV CHAYANEE NAREE while several boats were seized from January till date.
The command was involved in several activities of anti-piracy operation in a need to safeguard its maritime environment. A total of 15 piracy incident was reported to the western naval command maritime domain and capability center during the period under review. Out of these 15 reported incidents, only 4 occurred in the Nigerian maritime domain. Out of these 4, one 1 occurred in the western naval command area of responsibility. This report was collaborated by the International maritime bureau report which noted a 76% reduction in piracy attacks in Nigeria compare to the same period in 2020.
The anti-illegal bunkering effort of the command deposits results and patrol team deployed from NNS Beecroft FOB Badagry, & FOB Igbogoda during the period in focus intercepted the destroys several boats and vehicles conveying stolen petroleum products. As well as a storage depot. A total of 28 boats and 7 vehicles were seized from January to September 2021 in the iIgbogoda area of responsibility.
Gbassa said: “Security in the maritime domain witnessed a lot of improvement in the first three quarters of 2021 as compared to the year 2020.
“We have been able to record increased presence at sea, which is made possible through a series of initiatives” Gbassa stated.