Nigeria, US lead 22 na­tions in war against pi­rates

Daily Trust - - NEWS - From Eu­gene Agha, La­gos

Nigeria and the United States of Amer­ica are ex­pected to lead 20 coun­tries in a sea ex­er­cise, tagged Obangame 2014, sched­uled to hold si­mul­ta­ne­ously in three West African na­tions.

The par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries are United States of Amer­ica, France, Italy, Spain, Ger­many, Turkey, Brazil and Den­mark, Bel­gium Nether­land, Por­tu­gal and the host na­tion Nigeria. Oth­ers are An­gola, Ghana, Camer­oun, Equa­to­rial Guinea, Benin Repub­lic, Cote Devoir, Gabon, Togo, Repub­lic of Congo and Sao Tome and Principe while South Africa is be­ing ex­pected as ob­server.

Four­teen for­eign ships and nine Nige­rian Navy ships are also ex­pected to par­tic­i­pate in the ex­er­cise in La­gos area. Two Nige­rian Navy he­li­copters and Nige­rian Air Force ATR 42 air­craft will pro­vide air cover in terms of sur­veil­lance, med­i­cal evac­u­a­tion and search and res­cue, it was gath­ered.

The ex­er­cise, OBANGAME EX­PRESS 2014, started on April 10, 2014, with ar­rival and in-land train­ing at the Joint Mar­itime Se­cu­rity Train­ing Cen­tre, Ojo, and it is be­ing co­or­di­nated at the newly es­tab­lished mar­itime op­er­a­tions cen­tre in Western Naval Com­mand Head­quar­ters at Apapa.

Ad­dress­ing news­men in La­gos, the Flag Of­fi­cer Com­mand­ing (FOC), Western Naval Com­mand, Rear Ad­mi­ral Sa­muel Ile­sanmi Alade, stated that the event is very im­por­tant as it con­cerns main­te­nance of se­cu­rity in the na­tion’s mar­itime en­vi­ron­ment.

“There is no doubt that the huge re­sources and po­ten­tial in the Gulf of Guinea are be­ing un­der­mined by mul­ti­fac­eted do­mes­tic, re­gional and in­ter­na­tional threats and vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties. Rather than con­tribut­ing to the sta­bil­ity and eco­nomic pros­per­ity of coun­tries in this re­gion, per­va­sive in­se­cu­rity in this re­source laden mar­itime en­vi­ron­ment has re­sulted in multi­bil­lion dol­lars losses an­nu­ally. Nigeria, like any other mar­itime na­tion re­lies on the sea for har­vest­ing of re­sources, com­merce and in­ter­na­tional trade. For some years, ef­forts have been in­ten­si­fied to tackle the se­cu­rity chal­lenges of piracy, poach­ing, smug­gling, oil theft, traf­fick­ing and other transna­tional crimes,” he added.

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