The Minister Of Defence, retired Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi,  on Friday said that the Nigerian Navy had taken possession of a patrol vessel from China to boost the fight against piracy.

The minister said this during the handover of  some military equipment and a 46-meter patrol vessel by the People’s Republic of China to the Nigerian Army and the Nigerian Navy respectively.

Magashi was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Dr Ibrahim Kana, at the ceremony.

The minister said that the gesture consolidated the defence bilateral agreement between the People’s Republic of China and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“I am also pleased to note that current efforts of the Federal Government toward supporting the military to combat insecurity have been impactful and yielding tremendous successes.

“With the support and donation of equipment and platforms from strategic partners like China, capabilities of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will be further improved,” he said.

Magashi said that the donation of these high-grade military equipment and a maritime platform would no doubt boost socio-economic development for enhanced national security as well as regional stability.

“This means that the impact of these donated equipment will not only be felt in Nigeria but in the West African Sub-region as well as the whole continent of Africa.

“I accept the military equipment as well as the Patrol Vessel and assure you that these equipment and platform will be deployed to enhance operational effectiveness of the Armed Forces for improved security,” he said.

The minister appreciated the kind gesture and support extended to the Nigerian  Armed Forces by the Government of the People’s Republic of China.

He also appreciated the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Nigeria, Mr Cui Chun,  for facilitating the handover of the equipment and platform.

The Chief Of Naval Staff (CNS),Vice Adm. Awwal Gambo, said that support from China toward enhancing capability of the Nigerian Navy to bolster its  presence within the maritime domain had been tremendous.

Gambo recalled that as part of the fleet recapitalisation efforts through the uncommon support of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian Navy acquired 2 x 95.6m Offshore Patrol Vessels from China.

“These are NNS CENTENARY and NNS UNITY, which joined the Nigerian Navy Fleet in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

“Sequel to these acquisitions, a 46m Patrol Vessel, NNS SAGBAMA, was donated by the Government of the People’s Republic of China to support Nigerian Navy’s operations.

“These vessels and others in the fleet have enhanced Nigerian Navy’s Maritime Security operation efforts, which significantly  have helped to reduce piracy within Nigeria’s maritime domain as well as  in the Gulf of Guinea,” he said.

The CNS said that these efforts eventually culminated in delisting Nigeria from the list of piracy-prone countries in 2022 by the International Maritime Bureau.

“I am delighted that today’s donation of this 46M Patrol Vessel to the Nigerian Navy marks another milestone in the bilateral collaboration between our two countries.

“I also attest to the People’s Republic of China’s willingness and resilience to ensure a safe and secure maritime environment for socio-economic activities to thrive in Nigeria.

“I am optimistic that this vessel will further enhance Nigerian Navy’s presence at sea towards curbing insecurity within the nation’s maritime domain and beyond,” Gambo said.

Similarly, the Ambassador of China to Nigeria, Mr Cui Chun, said that the gesture was a reflection of the political relationship between China and Nigeria,  and also deepen and broaden military cooperation between them.

“This is also the starting point for greater things to come in the coming decades.

“I believe we can work together to build confidence and capacity to fight terrorism and piracy because it not only the concern of the Nigerian people but also that of the Chinese.

“This vessel is for fighting piracy and it will increase the capacity of the military, especially, the Navy to use the ship to patrol and keep the maritime environment safe and secured,” Chun said.

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