THE Flag Officer Commanding, Central Naval Command, Yenagoa, Rear Admiral Obinwanne Egbuchulam, has identified criminal activities like sea robbery, piracy, illegal oil activities, militancy and sabotage as some of the biggest threats to Nigeria’s maritime security and oil and gas assets.
He said this while delivering the 7th annual public lecture of the Federated Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, Bayelsa Council with the theme, ‘Maritime security: Implications for Nigeria’s oil and gas industry’, in Yenagoa.
Egbuchulam stated that these security challenges in the maritime environment had “resulted in financial losses estimated at over $2.7bn for the country”, although he did not indicate the period under which it was incurred.
The FOC, CNC, represented by the Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship, NNS Soroh, Commodore Patrick Effah, posited that with the oil and gas industry as the country’s major revenue earner domiciled in the maritime environment, it was important to tackle the security problems in the sector to safeguard the nation’s economy.
He said in 2020 alone, there were over 44 vessel attacks by pirates with 487 suspected oil thieves arrested, 168 illegal refineries destroyed, 393 wooden boats seized.
Egbuchulam explained that with the acquisition of more warships, helicopters and other military equipment, the incidents of robbery along the maritime corridor had been drastically reduced, stabilising security in the region.
Egbuchulam further said, “When we have piracy, sea robbery and other forms of maritime illegality, it undermines revenue generation for the country.
“Ships will not come into our waters readily, and when they do, the premium that is paid in terms of insurance is high because of the fact that the nation’s waters have been tagged to be high hub of piracy. The Nigerian Navy is doing a lot and has made tremendous efforts.
Also, the Chairman of the occasion, King Bubaraye Dakolo, who is the monarch of Ekpetiama Kingdom in the Yenagoa LGA of Bayelsa, described maritime insecurity as a serious issue that should be dealt with seriously.
In his remarks, the Bayelsa State Commissioner for Information, Orientation and Strategy, Ayibaina Duba, commended the Federated Correspondents’ Chapel of the NUJ for coming up with the lecture that focused on maritime security and its implications for the oil and gas industry, saying the state was at the centre of the challenges.
In an address of welcome, the Chairman of the Federated Correspondents’ Chapel, Chris Eze, said the focus of this year’s lecture was aimed at calling the attention of stakeholders to take action to secure the nation’s waterways.