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Official commitment for DBP must begin with assenting Antipiracy Bill—Expert

Maritime security pundit and Gulf of Guinea analyst, Dr. Pius Aduda has described Federal Government’s attention to Nigeria’s maritime security considering waves of attacks on ships and crew members as cosmetics as long as the Antipiracy Bill remained unassented to by the president.
Reacting to a recent comment by the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, that the Federal Government’s determination to rid the Nigerian territorial waters of criminalities through the Integrated Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, otherwise known as the Deep Blue Project (DBP), he said “So far the bill remains on the shelves of Mr President unattended to, whatever the minister is say remains unbelievable”.
“Listen to me. So far a foreign company by name, HLSi from Israel has been hired by the same government preaching the goodness of DBP to our economy knows that the spirit of the Bill is against the involvement of foreign security body to do whatever on our territorial, that Bill may not see the light of the day”.
“I say this because the services of HLSi will be illegal if the Bill becomes law because the Bill did not recognize any use of foreign security details in fighting piracy but regional collaboration. You and I are aware that HSLi is not owned by any of the countries within the Gulf of Guinea.
“That is the more reason why the presidency may continue to seat on the Bill,” Aduda averred.
Business Hilights recalls that Amaechi had on Thursday last week in Lagos at the graduation ceremony for participants of the C4I Intelligence System Operator Course for the Deep Blue Project, said “The length of our coastline, our exclusive economic zone, as well as our strategic location on a major shipping route, which is the Gulf of Guinea, means that we cannot afford illegalities, such as piracy, oil theft, sea robbery, and other crimes.
“The Deep Blue Project is a conscious effort towards addressing illegality in our territorial waters and, indeed, the Gulf of Guinea.”
The minister, who was represented by the Director, Maritime Safety and Security, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Engr. Dajuma Dauda, further noted that the 853km long Nigeria coastline and the country’s location in the Gulf of Guinea made it strategic for both maritime activities and security issues.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, said the Deep Blue Project would drastically reduce attacks in the Gulf of Guinea. Dakuku explained that the project was multifaceted and involved the training of selected officers from the various strata of the security services and NIMASA as well as acquisition of assets to combat maritime crime.
He observed that “The Deep Blue Project is a multipronged approach towards tackling insecurity in our territorial waters and the entire Gulf of Guinea. What we are doing is fulfilling the training aspect of the project and this will also be complemented by acquisition of assets, such as fast intervention vessels, surveillance aircraft, and other facilities, including a command and control centre for data collection and information sharing that will aid our goals of targeted enforcement.”
“The Deep Blue Project is geared towards building a formidable integrated surveillance and security architecture that will comprehensively combat maritime crime and criminalities in Nigeria’s waterways up to the Gulf of Guinea,” Peterside added.
NIMASA DG revealed that the Agency, in collaboration with the National Assembly, was taking steps to ensure that the Antipiracy Bill was passed soon. He said NIMASA was involved in both regional and domestic collaborations to ensure that maritime crimes in the country’s waterways were reduced to a bare minimum, if not completely eliminated.
The ceremony was attended by the top echelons of the Nigerian Armed Forces, led by the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin represented by Rear Admiral A. Akinrinade.
Certificates were presented to the successful participants by the GOC 9th Mechanized Division, Maj-Gen M. S. Yusuf representing the Chief of Army Staff; Air Commodore S. O. Shobande and Rear Admiral M. A. Eno Represented the Chief of Air Staff and the Chief of Naval Staff respectively. Also the Police was represented by AIG, Marine, Abdul Dahir Danwanu; and Mr Ado Ibrahim represented the Department of State Security Service (DSS).
The participants were drawn from the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force, Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Police, DSS, and NIMASA.