The federal government has expressed optimism that the maritime security unit of the $195 million deep blue project would tackle illegal bunkering, pipeline vandalism, piracy, smuggling, illegal fishing and environmental protection in the nation’s maritime space.

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Speaking at the 2024 graduation ceremony of the advance combat training programme for the maritime security unit of the deep blue project, the Minister of Defence, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, said federal government was committed to solving all maritime crimes in the country.

He added that the officers trained for the maritime security unit of the deep blue project had been equipped with necessary skills and knowledge necessary to confront maritime security challenges.

The minister said that the trained officers had been prepared to address issues ranging from illegal bunkering, pipeline vandalism, piracy, smuggling to illegal fishing and environmental protection.

He said the role of the newly trained officers is indispensable in maintaining the integrity of the nation’s maritime boundaries and protecting the national interest of the country.

According to him, “Maritime security is a collaborative effort, requiring coordination and cooperation with various national and international agencies. You will be amongst the frontline defenders, working alongside the Nigerian Navy, Maritime Police and other stakeholders to ensure a secured maritime domain”.

Also speaking, the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, said the deployment of the deep blue platforms and assets in 2021 contributed to the drop of piracy and other maritime crimes in the nation coastal water.

The minister said the deep blue project also contributed immensely to the removal of Nigeria from the piracy hot list by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

“Since the full deployment of the Deep Blue platforms and assets in 2021 within the Nigerian Continental Shelf, maritime security has been significantly enhanced. The project has contributed immensely to the significant reduction in piracy and other maritime crimes, thus enhancing safety and security in Nigerian waters.

“Sequel to this, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has removed Nigeria from Piracy Hot List. The achievement of zero piracy incidences in Nigerian waters since 2022 is quite commendable and we are committed to sustaining this with the combined effort of all key players. It is to be noted that United Nations Security Council, at its 905th meeting, acknowledged the progress made by Nigeria in maritime security with reference to the contributions of the deep blue project.”

Giving his opening remarks, the Director Ggeneral of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dayo Mobereola, also disclosed that Nigeria was delisted from list of piracy prone countries in 2023.