The Nation reports that the Italian government has reiterated its commitment to collaborate with Nigeria on improved maritime
This pledge was made by the Deputy Head of Italian Mission to Nigeria, Tarek Chazli in Lagos at the end of a three-day joint sea exercise held by the Nigerian and Italian Navies.
The exercise codenamed, SHARK SHIVER was held between November 24 and 26 within Nigeria’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). It was aimed among other things, to strengthen bilateral relations between both countries as well as support the Nigerian Navy’s efforts to eradicate piracy, other maritime crimes from the Gulf of Guinea (GOG) region.
Chazli, who led members of the Italian diplomatic community from Abuja to receive Italian Navy Ship, FEDERICO MONTENEGRO at the Fairway Buoy after the exercise, said he was pleased the vessel had prior to the joint exercise, carried out several anti-piracy interventions in the region.
“I recall one in front of the waters of Benin Republic and one in front of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s waters where our ship was called upon and in cooperation with the local naval force, engaged with situations where there were acts of piracy going on and brought same under control,” he said.
According to him, bilateral relationship between both countries has transcended many decades without disputes and was mutually beneficial.
Chazli said: “As the representative of the Embassy of Italy here, I can say we are witnessing the conclusion of indeed very successful joint exercise which we were able to do despite the coronavirus pandemic. I want to salute the magnificent work done by the Nigerian Navy and by the Western Naval Command in particular.
“Over the last three days, I had the chance to gather with my team, to witness the efficiency and the commitment to duty. I commend the high skills of the Nigerian Navy.
“What we have done is only small part of the larger effort, to combine our forces, to fight common transnational and international issues like piracy and other security risks not only for the country or Gulf of Guinea but the larger world.
“That is why Italy is now extending commitment to the security of this part of the world. The success of our joint exercise has guaranteed that more collaboration will follow and we are very confident that next year we will have longer presence and closer collaboration and we will be ready to welcome the ships.”
Earlier, the Chief Staff Officer (CSO), Rear Admiral Yakubu Pani said NN deployed five vessels and a detachment of its elite force, the Special Boat Service (SBS) for the exercise.
“The security of the Gulf of Guinea and other neighbouring maritime domain is key to our regional stability and security. Accordingly, this form of maritime exercises will be sustained with other friendly navies as we continue to collaborate and partner for collective interest of the region.’’
“The exercise was rewarding as it has impacted positively on the proficiency of personnel in several areas and trainings. It also provided the platform to align our training objectives with our operational requirements in furtherance of the vision of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas.
“Additionally, it provided an avenue for the planning and execution of coordinated strikes capabilities and assessment of some of our planning assumptions. Some of the exercise conducted included anti-piracy, fleet manouver, communications, vessel board search and seizure, search and rescue amongst others.
“The exercise was generally successful and intended to stay relevant in our quest to conduct decisive maritime operations. A total of five ships and a detachment of SBS were deployed with the Italian Navy ship. The ships include NNS PROSPERITY, NNS KARADUWA, NNS NGURU, NNS EKULU, and NNS OSE.
“I appreciate the Italian Navy for collaborating with the NN which enabled the conduct of this exercise. We are looking forward to conduct future exercises.
“Let me also once again reiterate that the command will spare no effort in ensuring a safe and secure maritime environment for the economic prosperity of the nation,” said Rear Admiral Pani.