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Oil theft: FG begins deployment of $195m security equipment June

Deployment of specialised security tools and manpower on the Nigerian maritime domain for safe and secure waters will begin in June, to be completed by first quarter of 2020, immediate past Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, has said.

The $195m three-year security contract to the Israeli firm, HLSI Security Systems and Technologies, which was initially awarded in 2017, was cancelled in January, 2018, over internal security concerns.

However, the contract, restored in August, entails the acquisition and deployment of helicopters, airplanes, three big battle-ready ships, 12 vessels and 20 amphibious cars to the nation’s waters to stem the insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea.

Addressing stakeholders on Tuesday in Lagos on the journey so far, Amaechi noted that the security situation in the maritime sector had become very bad and that President Muhammadu Buhari was aware of it.

“Part of the problem is that most of the vessels we have can’t go through the creeks because of how shallow the water is. What we are buying can go through the creeks. We have shown the stakeholders and deployment will start in June this year,” he assured.

Speaking further Amaechi said: “The impact of that deployment we cannot explain because not all the equipment is in place, but we will start in June to see how we can stop these criminals from converting our waters into a theatre of war. We think that between June and first quarter of 2020, we would have completed deployment, then you can hold us responsible for any crime that takes place in the waters.

“At that point we would have finished training of our personnel, led by the Nigerian Navy (NN) because the equipment will be manned by the navy. The army, police, air force, DSS and NIMASA are also involved in the effort to rid our waters of criminals.”