The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Lt.-Gen. Lucky Iraboh, has called for more collaboration with foreign navies to effectively tackle maritime crimes in the Gulf of Guinea.
Iraboh made the call while flagging off a two-day regional maritime exercise, codenamed ‘Exercise Edi-Diana’ at the federal Ocean Terminal, Onne, in Rivers on Monday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the multi-national exercise is organised bi-annually as part of the Nigeria Navy Week celebration.
Iraboh said no navy could independently police the entire ocean without the collaborative efforts of other navies.
“So, the only way that we can ensure efficient maritime security is through collaborative efforts rather than by individual states acting independently.
“’Exercise Edi-Diana’ is unique and serves dual purposes of firstly, to celebrate the Nigeria Navy at 66 and secondly, to foster cooperation to enhance maritime security.
“The exercise scenario to be simulated in the next two-days at sea includes anti-piracy, anti-illegal unreported, unregulated activities and fleet manoeuvre, amongst others,” he said.
The CDS said there was a need for foreign navies in Africa, European Union and the United States Coast Guard to work together to achieve a common goal.
“This is because the ocean is a key asset to the world, and as such, building forces together through collaboration will enable us to access its benefits as a comity of nations.
“I am optimistic that this exercise will further reinvigorate the operation readiness of participating navies, to ameliorate maritime crises within our collective maritime space,” he added.
The defence chief said the Federal Government had quite of plan to re-arm the navy through the acquisition of capital ships and other military hardware.
“There are a good number of assets that we are also expecting in the medium term aside from the ones that have been received in the last few months.
“The intention is to enhance the capacity of the Nigeria Navy, to efficiently deal with all crimes in Nigeria’s waters and beyond as well as prevent them from occurring,” he added.
Speaking, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, said that “Exercise Edi-Diana,” meaning “coming together” in Ibibio language, was organised to commemorate the Nigeria Navy’s 66th anniversary.
He said eight Nigeria navy warships, two helicopters and its Special Boat Service (Special Forces) would take part in the exercise in the Gulf of Guinea waters.
“The exercise is designed to improve regional cooperation through joint operation, intelligence sharing and harmonising legal frameworks.
“These are geared towards enhancing the collective capability of the Gulf of Guinea navies against maritime crimes.
“Others participating in the exercise include Cameroun, Ghana, Italy and Togo navies.
“The exercise presents an opportunity for the Nigeria navy to work together with other national and regional navies in the spirit of the Yaoundé Accord,” he added. (NAN)