A patrol vessel (file)

More than seven years after, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC has continued to detain 25 patrol vessels jointly owned by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA and the Global West Vessel Specialist Nigeria Limited GWVSL, in what analysts described as unnecessary waste of national resources.

NIMASA had some time in 2013 signed a contract under which GWVSNL would supply patrol boats for policing the entire stretch of the Nigeria’s coastline from Lagos to Calabar, the Cross River State capital with an initial investment of $103,400,000.00 (N16 billion), for 10 years in the first instance under a no cure, no pay arrangement.

Director General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh, who spoke at a recent media chat, listed some of the challenges faced by the agency in its fight against piracy and maritime crimes to include dearth of patrol platforms occasioned by the deployment of some of the patrol vessels to Liberia during the country’s war by the Nigerian military regime.

It was gathered that those vessels could not return to the country after the three-year war, having been over-used and therefore written off.

The DG also disclosed that the 25 vessels under NIMASA-GWVSL contract are still under the custody of the EFCC and have ever since been anchored at the Dock Yard in Lagos, thus widening the scarcity gap for the supply of patrol vessels.

He however assured that the agency with the support of the Federal Government, the Ministry of Transport and the Nigerian Navy is addressing the challenge posed by the scarcity of patrol vessels under its Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, also called the Deep Blue Project.

He noted that agency and other partners have already taken delivery of two Special Mission Vessels under the Deep Blue Project. The vessel, which arrived the country earlier in the year are equipped with sophisticated intelligence gathering capability for timely detection and response to illegal activities within Nigeria’s maritime domain.

Also received are 17 fast intervention vessels, six armoured personnel carriers while the first two special mission aircrafts and first unmanned aerial vehicle are expected to arrive the country before the end of August.

The DG, who also blamed the delay in the arrival of some of the equipment on the outbreak of the coronavirus, however noted that such equipment are not bought off the shelf, adding that when an order is placed, the manufacturer produces them according to specification, which takes time.

He expressed confidence that with the enactment of the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences SPOMO Act 2019, which enhances prosecution of suspects and procurement of these sophisticated equipment including patrol vessels, coupled with the C4i intelligence centre as well as the training of personnel, the country will soon reduce piracy and other maritime crimes in her domain to the barest minimum..