The Nigerian Navy says it is committed to protecting the country’s maritime space and enhancing security in the Gulf of Guinea. The Director of Information, Naval Headquarters, Abuja, Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, said this during a visit to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Lagos Office on Wednesday.
He said the Gulf of Guinea was cardinal as it represented almost a quarter of the whole of the African population, stressing that about 13,000 vessels transited the Gulf annually for maritime trade and different things of interest to seafarers. NAN reports that the countries involved in the Gulf of Guinea include Ghana, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Santo Tomé and Principe, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. Mr Ayo-Vaughan, a Commodore, said as a leader in the Gulf, Nigeria had invested in two State-of-the-art Maritime Domain Awareness Assets – the Regional Maritime Awareness Project, an American Technology and the Falcon Eye Alignment project, an Israeli technology – commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari in July 2021. Mr Ayo-Vaughan said the Falcon Eye Alignment project was a close circuit television that could view the entire maritime space from a distance of about 215.98 nautical miles, (400 kilometres) from the coastline.
“Any vessel as long as it is not under the water, that enters Nigeria maritime space will be seen, including detecting vessels, not in the nomination list keyed into the system.
“The issue of Era-Edu vessel, it came into our waters, it was spotted and as soon as it approached the Apple Oil Field, the alarm was triggered on the Falcon Eye Alignment that this vessel was not on nomination list that had been keyed into the system.
“The maritime domain asset is first of its kind in the region. A lot of foreign heads of Navies, foreigners, including the European Union delegates have visited the asset and it is actually a major cost multiply for the Navy,” he said.
Mr Ayo-Vaughan said the discussion was ongoing by Nigeria and neighbouring countries under Yaounde Architecture to establish a maritime task force to patrol the waters jointly. He stressed that security in the Gulf of Guinea was not based on seminars and conferences, but on the presence of security vessels going to the sea by all states involved. The Director pointed out that with Falcon Eye Alignment, any vessel that committed any infraction on Nigerian waters would be spotted and arrested either within the Nigeria space or other collaborating nations.
Mr Ayo-Vaughan, however, said the fueling of Naval vessels for security was a huge challenge with the increase in the price of diesel, stressing that using a capital ship with about 800,000 litres of diesel for two weeks or one month to the sea and back would cost the navy millions of naira.
“This aspect also, the Nigerian Navy is trying its best to ensure that the waters are patrolled and the internationally agreed and conventional regulations are enforced on our waters.
“We are almost there; it’s a responsibility that involves a lot of coordination.
“The Gulf of Guinea is cardinal to the extent that the U.S. for the last 11 or 12 years, has sponsored a regional maritime exercise to foster collaboration amongst the nations involved,” he said.