TEXT OF A PRESS BRIEFING ON CURRENT EFFORTS BY THE NIGERIAN NAVY IN MAINTAINING A STRONG PRESENCE WITHIN NIGERIA’S MARITIME ENVIRONMENT FOR SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF NIGERIA

On behalf of the Chief of the Naval Staff, officers and ratings of the Nigerian Navy, I welcome our friends in the media to this press briefing.

Piracy, crude oil theft and other illegalities in Nigeria’s maritime environment have undoubtedly been a major source of revenue leakage in the country. Considering the direct adverse implication of the activities of crude oil theft on our national economy, the President and Commander in Chief issued a mandate that gave impetus for the war against maritime crimes. The execution of this Presidential mandate is best appreciated against a background of the several major oil installations in our maritime environment which require adequate protection. It is estimated that there are over 5,779 oil wells, 9,717km of pipelines, 112 flow stations, 16 gas plants, and 126 production platforms, Floating Production Storage Offloading (FPSOs) and Floating Storage Offloading (FSOs) platforms as well as other critical maritime assets and infrastructure. The existence of these enormous economic resources, coupled with the high cost of the maritime infrastructure in the maritime environment underscores the need for adequate maritime security which the Nigerian Navy is statutorily mandated to provide.

Arising from the mandate, the CNS promulgated the first Nigerian Navy Strategic Guidance-1 (SG-01) in October 2012. The policy direction of the SG 01 defines key deliverables which includes elimination of piracy, sea robbery, crude oil theft and provides for signature of performance contracts by field and unit commanders. This places additional obligation on the field commanders to bolster the operational capability of the NN, for which they have signed performance contracts. The SG01 is the strategic template designed by the CNS to actualize his mission and vision statement through the orchestration of surveillance capabilities, response initiatives and enforcement was promulgated. Suffice to state that the SG-01 has been expeditiously executed and SG-02 is being articulated.

In order to ensure total spectrum operational presence at sea, the Chief of the Naval Staff’s SG01 is driven by maritime trinity of actions as espoused by him. The first part of this Trinity is the NN surveillance capability. For enhanced surveillance of the maritime domain, the NN Regional Maritime Awareness Capability [RMAC) facilities were installed along our coastline to ensure adequate electronic surveillance of the nation’s coastal areas.

The second part of the Trinity of Actions is response initiative which involves the deployment of vessels/boats from Bases to interrogate/arrest suspicious vessels picked by the surveillance system.  In order to improve response capability, naval presence and deterrence, the NN carried out force restructuring which included the creation of an additional operational Command, new Forward Operating Bases (FOBs], Out Posts, coastal observation posts and flying units amongst others for increased reach to counter the crimes of crude oil theft and piracy in Nigeria’s maritime environment.

Equally, the NN asset recapitalization drive has resulted in acquisition of some Seaward Defence Boats and other mix of platforms, helicopters and support facilities to enforce its statutory responsibilities. Furthermore, 2 new Offshore Patrol Vessels [OPVs) are under construction in China to boost the fleet. It should be noted that for capacity building one of the OPVs will be built in China and the other will be completed in Nigeria. For maintenance and ensuring availability of platforms, the upgrading of ship support and repair facilities is also being carried out by the NN. All these have greatly enhanced NN response initiative capabilities.

In the last quarter of 2012, Fleet exercises were conducted in all the operational commands. These exercises have further improved NN preparedness and state of readiness to combat crime at sea and also help to wade off miscreants from Nigeria's maritime environment. In addition, the NN has foiled about 64 unsuccessful attacks of sea robbery and piracy between Jan- Aug 13.  Recently, the NN carried out coordinated operations with the Nigerian Air Force which led to the rescue of 2 petroleum products vessels, MT NORTE and MV CROW attacked by pirates in Aug 13.

To underscore the importance of the current NN strong surveillance and response capability at sea, between January and September 2013, over 968 crude oil tankers successfully lifted 82,122,452 metric tons of crude oil on behalf of Federal Government of Nigeria without been attacked by sea robbers or pirates.     For maritime law enforcement which is the third leg of the Trinity of Actions, arrested suspects are regularly being handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC], Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps [NSCDC] and the Nigeria Police for prosecution. An example is the handing over of 61 oil thieves to prosecuting agencies on 25 September by the Central Naval Command.

Training, manpower development and personnel motivation are also being invigorated in the ongoing capacity building efforts of the NN. The curriculum of the NN professional training institutions are being upgraded to cater for maritime terrorism, Maritime interdiction Operation (MIO) as well as Vessel Board Search and Seizure (VBSS) operations.

The NN operates the Maritime Guard Command of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in support of the agency’s statutory roles. The NN also cooperates with the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) for the security of our ports and harbour approaches amongst others.

The importance of collaboration with the private sector and other maritime stakeholders to solve the problem of insecurity cannot be overemphasized. Recently, the NN streamlined the operations of Private Maritime Security Companies (PMSCS) to bring them in line with the current strategic disposition of the NN. This was done with a view to establishing a framework for effective collaboration and synergy in the fight against piracy and other illegalities in the maritime domain. The NN has established information sharing mechanism with the Nigerian Trawlers Owners Association. The NN holds periodic meetings and retreats with other maritime stakeholders to exchange ideas on maritime security.  The NN Retreat for Maritime Stakeholders was held at Uyo Akwa Ibom State from 25-26     February 2013. Public enlightenment on maritime issues could mitigate the challenge of poor maritime domain awareness and sea blindness. The decisions of the retreat led to the development of an action plan which is being implemented by the NN and other maritime stakeholders.

The NN is now hosting a vibrant website www.cot.navy.mil.ng to articulate, share and showcase the efforts of the NN in mitigating illegal vices in the GoG. The website is to also enable the public pass useful information on the activities of crude oil thieves, pirates and other criminal elements.

Having established the overall strategic direction of NN’s current operations, let us now appreciate the concrete achievements of the NN on one hand and the NN in conjunction with other security agencies.  From   January - August 2013, the NN and JTF have to a large extent blunted the ability of crude oil thieves, pipeline vandals and pirates/robbers in carrying out these nefarious acts. Furthermore, between January 2012 and August 2013,       about 25 vessels have been arrested by the NN for involvement in crude oil theft and illegal oil bunkering. The list of vessels arrested from Jan – Sep 13 is at Enclosure 1 to this document.

The SG-01 has led to increase in the tempo of patrols and exercises by the NN. Furthermore, adherence to the tenets of SG-01 has resulted in more arrest of vessels at sea making it extremely difficult for the economic saboteurs to use the ocean for the export of stolen crude oil. However, the operation of illegal refineries is also in decline as a result of the joint efforts of NN/JTF PULO SHIELD.

 

TABLE A: NN/PULO SHIELD DATA OF DESTROYED ILLEGAL REFINERIES, BARGES, AUXILLIARY EQUIPMENT AND SUSPECTS ARRESTED FROM   JAN - AUG 13

Srl

Date

Illegal Refineries Destroyed

Barges Destroyed /Impounded

Boats Destroyed  (wooden, Cotonou)

Suspects Arrested

Auxilliary Equipment

Remark

(a)

(b)

(c)

(d)

(e)

(f)

(g)

(h)

1.

Jan

505

15

196

377

Drums – 3,144

Jerrycans – 1,611

Tanker Trucks – 9

Vehicles – 18

Geepee Tanks – 77

Pumping Machines – 34

Generating Set – 1

Surface Tank – 175

 

2.

Feb

204

14

90

94

Drums – 3,314

Jerrycans –  2,113

Tanker Trucks – 7 

Vehicles – 25

Geepee Tanks – 32

Pumping Machines – 52 

Generating Set – 15

Surface Tank – 88  

 

3.

Mar

122

6

222

 

176

Drums – 2,952

Jerrycans –  121

Tanker Trucks – 16

Vehicles –  16

Geepee Tanks – 707

Pumping Machines – 56 

Generating Set –  24

Outboard Engine – 12

Arms – 6 

Assorted Ammo – 95

Surface Tank – 55  

 

4.

Apr

76

18

143

152

Drums – 455

Jerrycans –  84

Tanker Trucks – 1

Vehicles –  4

Geepee Tanks – 370

Pumping Machines – 25

Generating Set –  1

Surface Tank – 216

 

5.

May

61

13

148

224

Drums – 11683

Jerrycans –  20391

Tanker Trucks – 7

Vehicles –  21

Geepee Tanks – 642

Pumping Machines – 96

Generating Set –  2

Surface Tank – 144

 

6.

Jun

27

-

91

132

Drums – 1079

Jerrycans –  100

Tanker Trucks – 5

Vehicles –  12

Geepee Tanks – 60

Pumping Machines – 16

Surface Tank – 42

 

7.

Jul

183

17

165

161

Drums – 4651

Jerrycans –  379

Tanker Trucks – 7

Vehicles –  17

Geepee Tanks – 456

Pumping Machines – 55

Surface Tank – 242

Generating set - 1

Outboard Engine – 7

 

 

8.

Aug

206

16

169

186

Drums – 4356

Jerrycans –  759

Tanker Trucks – 12

Vehicles –  20

Geepee Tanks – 374

Pumping Machines – 62

Surface Tank – 199

Generating set - 6

Outboard Engine - 10

 

 

Total

1384

99

1224

1502

61,844

 

 

 

From Table A above, the NN in collaboration with JTF (OP PULO SHIELD) and other security agencies destroyed about 1,348 illegal refineries, 99 barges, 1,224 boats (Cotonou) and 61,844 auxiliary equipment between Jan - Aug 13. Also, about 1502 suspects were arrested in connection with the destroyed illegal refineries above. It should be noted that there is a progressive decline in the number of illegal refineries, barges, boats and auxiliary equipment destroyed from Jan to Aug 13. This is as a result of the intensified deterrence patrols along the coast and increased tempo of operations between the NN and JTF PULO SHIELD in the creeks. 

On the international scale, the NN is actively participating in bilateral and multilateral efforts aimed at enhancing security in the GoG. Since September 2010, the NN has been involved in OP PROSPERITY with the Republic of Benin. The cooperative efforts have yielded positive results as the rate of pirates' attacks has reduced.

Multilateral maritime security exercises are extremely useful in building confidence, familiarity and interoperability, which are necessary for more substantive cooperative arrangements to enhance maritime security. At a multi-national level, the NN is involved in exercises with Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Nations under the platform of Ex OBANGAME EXPRESS. Additionally, the NN is actively involved in the African Partnership Station (APS) exercises with the US Navy, EU, Royal Navy and other exercises organized with friendly navies on port calls. The NN also shares information with the International Maritime Bureau for informed decisions on piracy and other related issues.

The NN hosted the first ever RMAC Conference from 28-31 July 2013 in Calabar. The thrust of the conference was the integration of all existing MDA capabilities across the West African sub-region into a common loop to ensure formidable maritime security architecture. The NN hosted the first Africa Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV] Conference in Africa from 27-29 August 2013 in Lagos. The theme was Delivering Maritime Security to Africa. In the same vein, a Nigerian Navy Ship, NNS THUNDER departed Nigeria on 8 August 2013 for the Royal Australian Navy’s International Fleet Review scheduled for 4 – 11 October 2013. The Fleet Review is a historic commemorative maritime event for the Royal Australian Navy and Australia which will include a multi-national sea exercise and other notable events intended to showcase the cordial relationship that exist between global maritime forces. She is presently on her final leg enroute Sydney (the designated area for the Fleet Review). All participating ships are expected to proceed to Jervis Bay from 30 September 2013 and are to maintain their rendezvous position until 3 October 2013.

The NN will participate in the forthcoming Sea Power Africa Symposium (SFAS) scheduled for 6-8 November 2013 in Dakar, Senegal. The Conferences and Symposium will further assist the NN in the exchange of ideas and exploitation of new frontiers in maritime security. These efforts are all geared towards operational synergy to combat piracy and other vices in the GoG.

Special Summit of Heads of State and Governments of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the officials of the Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC) on maritime security in the region was held in Yaounde Cameroon in June 2013 to enhance Maritime Security. As a result of the maritime security summit, the Nigerian and Cameroonian navies are to work out modalities for establishing a combined/joint naval patrol between Nigeria and Cameroon. Similarly, Nigeria and Cameroon are in the process of implementing a cross border joint security agreement to ensure the security of their joint borders, both land and maritime borders.

The NN has domesticated the IMO provisions on the employment of Privately Contracted Armed Security Personnel (PCASP) on merchant ships and would be activated on the promulgation of a draft Standing Operating Procedure (SOP). Also, the draft bill on piracy and other unlawful acts at sea, as proposed by NIMASA is, aimed at combating piracy and robbery at sea and provide legal backing to the fight against piracy and other crimes at sea.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Nigerian Navy will be hosting a major combined military exercise, the AFRICAN WINDS programme of the African Partnership Station from 3 – 24 October 2013. The programme involves trainings and exercises in Lagos, Calabar and Oron with elements of Dutch, US, UK and Spanish Marines and Special forces of the Dutch Navy Amphibious support ship, the HMNLS POTTERDAM. The trainings are scheduled to take place in Lagos from 3 – 14 October and in Calabar from 7 – 20 October while the exercises are scheduled in Lagos from 15 – 18 October and Calabar/Oron from 21 – 24 October 2013.

The exercises will cover company level amphibious raid, marine counter terrorism, sea mine identification and disposal, oil rig protection, riverine operations, insertion and extraction. The objective of the exercise is to improve the capacity of the Nigerian Armed Forces to plan and execute joint operations in a maritime environment. The NN in line with global best practices is driving the programme. This is to underscore the fact that the NN approach to solving our maritime security challenges as captured in SG01 is three dimensional namely national, regional and international.

 

I thank you very much for your rapt attention.

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