DG NIMASA, Dr. Peterside

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA has once again assured Nigerians and the international maritime community that the Federal Government is leaving no stone unturned in its renewed zeal in curbing the menace of piracy and other crimes on the nation’s territorial waterways.

This sequel to Federal Government’s recent approval for the procurement of three helicopters and 12 pieces of fast intervention vessels, which are in line with efforts to ensure coastal and aerial surveillance and patrol of the Nigerian maritime environment by operatives of the Nigerian Navy and NIMASA.

Recall that both agencies signed a Memorandum of Understanding MoU, which led to the formation of the Maritime Guard Command domiciled at NIMASA, which provides the platforms manned by both naval officers and NIMASA operatives that patrol the nation’s waters from Lagos to Calabar.

Director General of the agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, who gave the assurance in Lagos, recently said: “while acknowledging the fact that piracy is a global problem which is not peculiar to one continent or country, the need for a concerted and coordinated approach in tackling the menace cannot be overstated”.

He also said that there was no iota of truth in the reports that piracy was on the increase on Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea.

“It is sad that some section of the media is manipulating statistics to the contrary. The truth he pointed out is that the reverse is the case as piracy has been reduced to the barest minimum”, he said.

According to him, the inter agency and regional cooperation through bilateral agreements among others, as well as effective maritime domain awareness and strong maritime legislation to criminalise and punish piracy is fundamental in addressing the challenges.

Peterside also said that it was in recognition of this that  the governments of the West and Central African Countries including Nigeria at the regional level, subscribed to the Continental Maritime Charter on maritime security, safety and development in Africa, in Lome, Togo on the 15th of October, 2016, to strengthen inter-Agency and transnational coordination and cooperation among member countries in the area of maritime domain awareness, fight against all forms of maritime crimes, prevention and control of pollution of the seas and to promote economic growth of the continent of Africa.

In the area of inter agency cooperation, it is expedient to mention that NIMASA recently renewed its Memorandum of Understanding with the Nigerian Navy to strengthen collaboration between NIMASA and the Navy to enhance the safety and security of navigation in our waters as, well as leverage on the use of the Federal Government’s Falcon Eye Satellite systems domiciled with the Nigerian Navy including NIMASA’s Global Maritime Distress and Safety Systems to respond to distress calls within Nigerian waters in order to prevent and adequately respond to threats within the Nigerian maritime environment ”.

“In order to bolster the aforementioned efforts of the Agency to ensure a virile maritime sector through a robust legislative framework to criminalise and punish piracy and other maritime crimes committed in our waters to serve as a deterrent to offenders; Nigeria has prepared a draft Anti-Piracy Bill to give effect to the relevant provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982 and the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts at Sea, 1988 and it’s Protocol of 2005 to punish and deter piracy and other maritime crimes”, the DG stated..

Meanwhile, Director, Legal Services of NIMASA Mr. Abdulsalam Suleiman, who also spoke on the issue, noted that the agency was presently working with the Federal Ministry of Justice to finalise the Bill and has the assurances of the National Assembly of the expeditious passage of the Bill into law within the shortest possible time to strengthen the Country’s Anti piracy crusade.

According to Suleiman “It is pertinent to draw attention to the fact that some of the interventions highlighted above are already yielding positive results and have been duly noted by the international community. Worthy of mention, is the just concluded Legal Committee meeting (LEG 104) of the IMO held in London from the 26th to 28th April 2017, where the issue of piracy around the globe was discussed and the Gulf of Guinea and Nigeria were not mentioned as one of the high risk areas”This lends credence to the fact that Nigeria through its maritime law enforcement agencies are working assiduously in confronting maritime insecurity challenges in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea.

The Federal Government of Nigeria had in demonstrating its commitment to fighting piracy and other maritime crimes, approved the sum of $186million for the upgrading of maritime security infrastructure in the country.