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UN approves extension of Nigeria’s maritime territory

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thecable.ng

The United Nations (UN) has granted Nigeria sovereignty over additional square kilometres of maritime territory.

Nigeria made the submission in 2009 through the high powered presidential committee (HPPC) on the country’s extended continental shelf project.

Larry Awosika, a marine scientist and member of the committee, told President Bola Tinubu that the approval came after years of meticulous research on geophysics, geology and geography.

He added that diplomacy also helped to solidify Nigeria’s legal rights over a vast expanse of seabed and subsoil beyond its traditional territorial waters.

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Awosika spoke on Tuesday in Abuja while presenting the approval report alongside other members of the HPPC, according to a statement issued by Ajuri Ngelale, presidential spokesperson.

The professor said the economic potentials of the newly acquired territory are vast, including increased investments in hydrocarbons, gas, solid minerals, and a wide variety of sedentary species.

Aliyu Omar, committee secretary, said the new approved area “is about 16,300 square kilometres, which is about five times the size of Lagos State”.

Omar added that the official notification of the decision was conveyed to Nigeria by the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) in August 2023, shortly after Tinubu assumed office.

”The first option is to take the area gained and finalize the registration with the UN Secretary-General and close everything, meaning that we are satisfied with what we got. This will take at least one year,” the surveyor said.

”The second option is to take what we have right now, acquire more data, do a support write-up, and make a revised submission as recommended by CLCS for further consideration. This will take another four years.

”Either way, Nigeria will keep what has been approved.’’

Tinubu lauded the achievements, saying it reflects Nigeria’s economic and strategic interests.

‘‘This is big congratulations for Nigeria,’’ he said.

”I commend the team, and we must take advantage of this and invite you again to have a repeat of this knowledge exploration on geography, hydrography, and the marine life.

”Nigeria is grateful for the efforts that you put into gaining additional territory for the country without going to war. Some nations went to war, lost people and economic opportunities.”

Tinubu said his administration will continue to pursue the best options for the country.

Femi Gbajabiamila, chief of staff to the president; Adegboyega Oyetola, minister of marine and blue economy; and Hassan Tukur, HPPC chairman; also attended the meeting.

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