Korea, Belgium seek maritime security, improved trade with Nigeria
South Korea and Belgium have expressed optimism for improved maritime security, and enhanced seaborne trade with Nigeria.
The two countries pledged more support for the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), in its drive to enhance trade and security in the country’s maritime domain.
The new Consul-General of the Korean Embassy, Kang Haenggu, and Ambassador Designate of Belgium, Daniel Bertrand, made the promise when they paid courtesy calls on the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, at the Agency’s headquarters in Lagos.
The envoys acknowledged the security challenge in the Gulf of Guinea, and promised to support Nigeria’s efforts to improve security in its waters.
Addressing the South Korean and Belgian delegations at separate meetings, Jamoh expressed NIMASA’s determination to curb criminal attacks in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea.
To confront the menace of maritime criminality head-on, he said: “Nigeria has made huge investments in the establishment of a comprehensive maritime security infrastructure. The Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, also called the Deep Blue Project, is designed to secure our waters up to the Gulf of Guinea.
“The project is nearing completion, with more than 80 per cent of the assets, comprising special mission vessels, fast intervention boats, unmanned aerial vehicles, and armoured vehicles, already in the country.
“The information and intelligence hub of the Deep Blue Project, the Command, Control, Communication, Computer, and Intelligence Centre (C4i), was commissioned in August last year. The Centre is up and running with round-the-clock production of needed maritime domain awareness. The C4i has helped to identify and monitor activities in the black spots, leading to arrests of many suspects in recent times,” he said.
Jamoh, a graduate of the Korea Maritime and Ocean University, said the training of personnel for the Deep Blue Project had commenced and would be concluded this month, ahead of the deployment of the assets by December.
The Director-General also said investigation had revealed that Somali pirates were now active in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea, adding that pirates often navigated through Nigeria’s maritime boundaries, and sometimes came through the land borders.
He said the Maritime Intelligence Unit, recently established by NIMASA to help nip maritime crimes in the bud through identification of early warning signs, had revealed a relationship between crimes in the Nigerian maritime domain and the Somali pirates.
Haenggu and Bertrand, in their separate submissions, reiterated their determination to improve ties between their respective countries, and Nigeria in shipping development and maritime security.
Haenggu hailed the “strong working relationship” between the Korean Embassy and NIMASA, and hopes it continues, while Bertrand said his priority is to promote commerce between his country and Nigeria.