From left: DG NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh; CG Immigration Muhammed Babandede; Executive Director, Maritime Labour & Cabotage Services of NIMASA, Victor Ochei and a senior officer in the NIS, during a working visit by the NIMASA DG to the NIS recently in Abuja.

The Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, has said that synergy and inter-agency collaboration among the relevant government organisations remain the surest way to achieving the much desired maritime security in the country.

The DG, who spoke during a working visit to the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service NIS, Muhammed Babandede in Abuja, insisted that teamwork was the surest means to addressing most of the security challenges in the country,  the maritime domain inclusive. 

According to him, the immigration service was a crucial stakeholder in the security apparatus of the country. He said the service was also key in the implementation of the Coastal and Inland Shipping Cabotage law, which seeks to empower Nigerians in the maritime sector. 

“We need to interface and synergise to achieve our common goal of national security. Immigration is key to the success of the country’s maritime imperatives in many ways.

“Many of the criminal activities that take place on our waters emanate from land, and the NIS is a very important element in any effort to nip such crimes in the bud.

 “Effective collaboration with the NIS is therefore crucial in the achievement of the objectives of the Cabotage Act. Such partnership will go a long way in reducing inter-agency conflicts that often arise from the overlap of functions.

“There are provisions in the immigration law, for instance, that empower the NIS to grant work permits to expatriates, and some of these expatriates work as seafarers. But, then, according to one of the four legs of the Cabotage regime, expatriates are not meant to man our ships, except where their expertise is needed for such operation. And their services can only be engaged after a waiver has been granted by the exclusive permission of the Minister of Transport.

“To avoid any conflicts that may arise from a situation, where, for instance, a seafarer had obtained a work permit from the immigration but is not qualified to function as a seafarer within the Nigerian maritime domain, collaboration between NIMASA and NIS is necessary. This will help to harmonise the seemingly overlapping laws and forestall unnecessary rancour or squabbling among officers of the two agencies”, the Director-General stated.

It was gathered that NIMASA is currently enjoying such synergy with sister organisations such as the Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Police, and Nigerian Ports Authority NPA. 

“So far, we have recorded tremendous successes in our various mandates through such collaborations. One of the most notable is the recent arrest of suspected pirates, which was made possible by information and intelligence sharing.”

The NIS-boss while responding, expressed the readiness of the service to partner NIMASA to curb illegal migration and piracy. He disclosed that NIS had started making use of the Migration Information and Data Analysis System MIDAS, a comprehensive border management information system developed by the International Organisation for Migration IOM. The Comptroller-General said MIDAS was designed with the capability to collect, process, store, and analyse traveller information, especially the biometrics and profile, in real time for the purpose of identification, verification, and authentication of documents.

He said MIDAS had been installed in about 24 locations across the country’s land borders, airports, and seaports. They include the international airports in Abuja, Enugu, Lagos, and Kano; and land borders in Ogun, Cross River, Kastina, Jigawa, Kebbi, and Zamfara States.

The D G was accompanied on the visit by NIMASA’s Executive Director, Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services, Victor Ochei, and Abuja Zonal Office Coordinator, Zailani Musa Attah.