The Nigerian Navy on Wednesday received 50 assault gunboats and drones to tackle crime and criminality in the nation’s territorial waters.
The platforms and equipment, donated by Aiteo Global Group, are 21 gunboats, 14 operational patrol boats, seven house boats and four air boats.
Others are four high speed interception inshore patrol boats, long range surveillance drones and six high definition cameras.
Receiving the items in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, said the hardwares would be deployed to the creeks to fight oil theft, piracy and sea robbery.
According to Gambo, the donation was the manifestation of months of collaboration with critical maritime stakeholders to support naval operations.
He said: “The delivery of these platforms and assets aligns with the provisions of the Nigerian Navy 2021-2030 strategic plans on inter-agency and sub-regional cooperation.
“This is a milestone in our collaborative engagement with corporate maritime stakeholders to rid the nation’s maritime environment of criminal elements and economic saboteurs.
“To this end, these platforms will enhance the navy maritime security architecture and bolster our maritime security operations effort.”
Gambo commended Aiteo for the donations and sought support of other corporate organisations to enable the Navy deploy more gunboats and halt the growing criminal activities in Nembe Creek Trunkline area of Bayelsa State.
Also speaking, the Minister of Defence, Major General Bashir Magashi (retd), said the nation’s maritime environment accounted for about 70 per cent of the Federal Government’s revenue.
He said government was concerned about rising activities of oil thieves, illegal bunkers and pipeline vandals that constitute a great threat to the nation’s revenue generation.
Magashi said: “More worrisome is the fact that sustained oil pipeline vandalism has led to environmental degradation in the Niger Delta, resulting in agitations in the region.
“This underscores the need to employ a robust protection and defensive measure that would encompass the surveillance, monitoring and prompt interdiction of potential threats.”
The Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Iraboh, said the new platforms would be deployed to complement other internal security operations across the country.
The defence chief gave assurance that the boats would be used for its set objectives of securing lives and property, including the nation’s oil and gas installations.
On his part, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Dr. Tammy Danagogo, thanked Aiteo for donating the equipment.
Wike said: “Interestingly, the state government had also donated gunboats, patrol vehicles and other assets to security agencies as part of commitment to protecting lives and property in the state.
“We also initiated a current security summit where we engage with the military and security agencies to map out strategies to combat crime in Rivers.”
The Chief Executive Officer of Aiteo, Benedict Peters, said the company decided to donate the equipment to the navy, owing to frequent attacks on critical oil and gas facilities by vandals.
Peters, who was represented by Andrew Oru, a Director in the company, expressed optimism that the equipment would complement Federal Government’s efforts in tackling the menace.
He said: “We know that the Nigerian Navy stands in the best position to address this menace if adequately equipped and supported.
“Consequently, Aiteo resolved to maximally lend its hands of fellowship by handing over these operational support equipment to enable the navy to secure the waterways and facilities.”