With the economy of many coastal states, the Maritime Sector has always played a significant role. The Gulf of Guinea (GoG), for example, has survived numerous trans-shipping and fishing activities that have had massive developmental impacts on the economies of the GoG countries. However, these developments are confronted by various Maritime and Transnational Organized Crimes (MTOCS) such as human trafficking or smuggling, money laundering, illegal bunkering, piracy, terrorism at sea, Illegal Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUUF) and others. Resultantly, ensuring a safe maritime environment to trade along the gulf remains the focus of the GoG governments.
In March 2022, Nigeria got excluded from the Global List of Piracy-prone countries in an announcement made by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) owing to the Nigerian Navy Personnel’s commitment and dedication; after Exercise Obangame Express 2023, Nigeria would celebrate a year of its exclusion. Exercise Obangame Express 2023, the largest multinational maritime exercise in Africa was hosted by the Nigerian Navy with support from the US Africa Command and US Naval Forces Europe and Africa.
Nigeran Navy launched Operation Dakatar Da Barawo (OPDDB).
This year’s edition welcomed 32 countries from the Gulf of Guinea and beyond, with the sole aim of gathering to “improve regional cooperation, information-sharing practices, and tactical interdiction expertise.” This assembly was brought about by the Global Piracy Report of the IMB which affirmed that Nigeria recorded its lowest number of piracy and sea robbery against ship attacks in almost three decades. This was made possible by naval and maritime security investments through initiatives like the Falcon Eye Maritime Domain Awareness System and several new platforms acquisition.
Also, there is an ongoing construction of two new Seaward Defense Boats (SDBs) by the Naval Dockyard Limited in Lagos. Prior to this construction, in April 2022, the Nigerian Navy launched one of its most massive operations in many years called Operation Dakatar Da Barawo (OPDDB), with the exact goal of eliminating crude oil theft and vandalism in Niger Delta. The operation had its launch in partnership with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) and has enforced the seizure of over N80 billion worth of stolen petroleum products as well as many hundreds of arrests.
Naval Staff Chief pledged determination to achieve the force’s objectives.
Additionally, the steady decline of oil production in early months of 2022 has been reversed as there have been a steady rise since October 2022. The Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, expressed excitement at the announcement of a noteworthy improvement in the production of crude oil, with acknowledgement of both Nigerian and international communities. The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, affirmatively asserted his determination to achieve this objective, expressing gratitude to the President for provision of resources to record the significant progress in the fight against maritime piracy and criminality.
Through the Yaounde Architecture and Gulf of Guinea maritime safety and security coordinating mechanisms which cover 19 countries, the Nigerian Navy was able to alert and deploy the Equatorial Guinea Ship for seizure of the vessel. After the arrest and further investigations by the Government of Equatorial Guinea, owners of the ship were ordered to pay a substantial fine and released to the Nigerian Navy to face due justice in the country. A Federal High Court in Port Harcourt is currently trying the case.
Country makes efforts to boost regional & multinational cooperation.
According to experts in the industry, the hosting of Obangame Express by Nigeria is proof of the determination of the Nigerian Navy to improve regional and multinational cooperation for achievement of its objectives of securing the maritime environment in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea. The CNS and Naval Headquarters in the same vein hosted the African Union, delegations from the European Union, the United States Navy Office of Security Cooperation, Defense Academy of UK among others.