DG NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh (second right); Managing Director, Mediterranean Shipping Nig. Ltd, Andrew Lynch (middle); General Manager, Hull Blyth Nigeria, Peter Kotze (right); Executive Director, Operations, NIMASA, Ahmed Shehu (second left); and Executive Director, Finance and Administration, NIMASA, Chudi Offodile (left), during a meeting between the Shipping Association of Nigeria SAN and NIMASA at the agency’s headquarters in Lagos.

The Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA have taken steps to beef up security around the country’s Secure Anchorage Area SAA with a view to protecting, interdicting, and detering threats to vessels anchored off the coast of Lagos.

Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, who made the disclosure, spoke when members of the Shipping Association of Nigeria SAN, which is umbrella body for all the multinational shipping lines operating in the country paid him a courtesy visit in Lagos at the weekend. The DG who insisted that there no security vacuum, also said the new security measures are in line with the total deployment of assets under the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure also called the Deep Blue Project.

He spoke in response to security concerns raised by SAN following the cancellation of the SAA contract by President Muhammadu Buhari and transfer of the responsibility for the area’s protection to NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy, insisting there was no security vacuum in Nigerian waters.

“We are deploying high-tech assets under the Deep Blue Project to not only deal with piracy and armed robbery in our territorial waters frontally, but also respond to the increasing sophistication of these maritime crimes,” Jamoh stated. “The Nigerian Navy and NIMASA are partnering to ensure a high level of security in our waters. We are tying up all loose ends and very soon everything would become manifest and clear to stakeholders and operators.

“I can assure you that there is no security vacuum in our waters. From what I know, the SAA is more protected than ever before. The Nigerian Navy has recently deployed 14 warships to enhance security in the area and the wider maritime domain. Other assets, including Special Mission Vessels, interceptor boats, and Special Mission Aircraft, are also being deployed under the Deep Blue Project.

“Besides, there is an emergency mobile line for any vessel in distress in our waters, +2348030685167, and the NIMASA emergency response room can be reached on Channel 16 of the Very High Frequency (VHF) radio channel.

“The menace of maritime insecurity is an age-long challenge in the industry, and government is doing its best within the available resources to address the issues, with continuous patrols by dedicated vessels to the SAA. We appeal for a healthy working relationship and further deliberations are welcome”, he said.

It was gathered the deployment is on-going with the primary aim of providing security in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea and tackling the security challenges encumbering the shipping business in the area.

He said NIMASA was networking with international bodies, such as INTERTANKO and INTERCARGO, to ensure security in the Gulf of Guinea, with the Yaoundé-based International Coordination Centre ICC also playing a central role.

The DG told stakeholders to always contact the Command, Control, Computer Communication and intelligence (C4i) centre located at the NIMASA-owned Nigerian Maritime Resource Development Centre (NMRDC), Kirikiri, in Lagos, for necessary actions under the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act.

Meanwhile, leader of the team and Managing Director of Mediterranean Shipping, Andrew Lynch, who spoke earlier urged the NIMASA management to intensify measures to maintain security within the SAA.

Other representatives of major shipping lines operating in Nigeria, who attended the meeting, included the Managing Director of Grimaldi Nigeria, Ascanio Russo, and Managing Director of CUA- shipping, Haul Odeyer. Maersk Nigeria and GAC also had representation at the meeting.