Maritime Security: NIMASA, Air Force set to deploy assets for Deep Blue Project


By Chiazo Ogbolu
Lagos, Sept. 17, 2020 The Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, says air assets acquired under the Deep Blue Project, also called the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, are set for deployment.

Abubakar said in a statement on Thursday in Lagos that the assets domiciled with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), would be deployed by the Nigerian Air Force to support the Federal Government’s maritime security effort.

According to the statement by the Head, Corporate Communications of NIMASA, Philip Kyanet, Abubakar made the disclosure when the Director-General (D-G) of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh, paid a working visit to the Nigerian Air Force headquarters in Abuja obn Wednesday.

He noted that the NIMASA D-G had requested adequate arrangement to receive and deploy the two special mission aircraft expected in the country in the next few months.

Abubakar said that NAF had maintained a longstanding cordial relationship with NIMASA with a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Maritime Air Surveillance and Intelligence signed in 2013.

He said that though the MOU had elapsed, NAF had continued to play a crucial role in maritime security, working closely with the Nigerian Navy and NIMASA.

Abubakar said that NAF had recently established a Combat Reconnaissance Group (203 CRG) in Gombe State, primarily to deal with the security challenges in the North-East and other parts of the North.

He said the drones that would be deployed with the 203 CRG could be moved to any part of the country, including coastal locations, especially given the crucial place of the maritime environment to the survival of the country.

“Indeed, we are working towards establishing UAV wings in Lagos, Calabar and Port Harcourt to support other security agencies in maintaining the security of the maritime environment,” he said.

Abubakar, who assured the director-general that Air Force would do everything in its power to partner with NIMASA on the Deep Blue Project, said that the Federal Government was doing everything humanly possible to secure Nigeria and Nigerians.

Responding, Jamoh commended the leadership of the Nigerian Air Force for its commitment to capacity development.

He noted that NIMASA was committed to ensuring the success of the Deep Blue Project with adequate cooperation from all stakeholders.

“We have received two Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), and the two special mission aircraft are expected to arrive in the country before the end of the year.

“The challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the special training for the personnel to man these air assets, but we have found a way around it. We will continue to seek your partnership to secure the Nigerian maritime domain,” he said.

Jamoh disclosed that 17 fast interceptor boats, 15 armoured vehicles and two special mission vessels were some of the land and marine assets already on ground.

He said all hands must be on deck to secure the country’s maritime environment and change all negative narratives.

The Deep Blue Project, also called the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, is a maritime security project.

It aims to comprehensively tackle insecurity in Nigeria’s territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone up to the Gulf of Guinea.

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