NIMASA DG says trail of Pirates begin Under New Law
*Assures on safety of Nigerian Waters For Shipping
* As Agency Mulls Incentives For Maritime Sector
Aiming to rid Nigeria’s waterways of criminalities and reassure the global community that it is getting on top of the security issues in its maritime domain, the country will this week commence prosecution of suspected pirates under the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act, the Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, disclosed this during interactions with journalists in Lagos.
He revealed that the Nigerian Navy had arrested the pirates recently, with intelligence support from NIMASA, and their trial will be the first under the anti-piracy law signed in June last year by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The law made Nigeria the first in West and Central Africa to have a stand-alone antipiracy legislation.
Jamoh said the Agency is mounting a strong campaign to root out piracy and armed robbery in the country’s waters.
He said, ” Nigerian waters are now safer for navigation, as the proactive approach of NIMASA to safety and security at sea are yielding positive results. This is evidenced in multiple arrests of suspected pirates in the second quarter of the year.”
The Director-General revealed, ” NIMASA sent a proposal to the Federal Government on the issue of providing incentives for stakeholders in the maritime sector. The Federal Ministry of Transportation is also putting final touches to arrangements for disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF). Operators in the maritime industry will soon begin to access the fund.”
He added, ” fighting crime with intelligence and technology are our hallmark in the battle against piracy, in the last three months”.
Media practitioners who were at the briefings, pledged their full support for the Agency’s efforts to get rid of the pernicious obstacles to safe and secure navigation in the country’s waters.
Jamoh, who launched a 3-point agenda, focused on Maritime Safety, Maritime Security, and Shipping Development, with the acronym 3s, on assumption of office, stated, “Collapsing our agenda into security, safety and shipping development has given us a bird’s-eye view of the challenges inherent in our sector. Our strategy of nipping piracy on the bud is yielding positive results. That is why the Navy and Police arrested a total of 27 suspected pirates in the last two months.
“Our findings revealed that these criminals work with the cooperation of international allies and that is what makes them sophisticated. We have set out to tackle them through intelligence gathering and collaboration with relevant stakeholders.
Our recent arrests have shown the international community that we are not handling illegalities in our waters with kid gloves.”
He expressed delight in the changing international opinion on safety and security in Nigerian waters, as seen in a recent congratulatory letter by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO} to Nigeria for its zeal to make the country’s waters safe and secure.
On the question of incentives for the maritime sector, Jamoh stated, “We have made proposals to President Muhammadu Buhari through the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rt. Honourable Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, for approval to grant different kinds of incentives that will help us grow the industry. We are also working to ensure the disbursement of the CVFF. We believe that other sectors, like manufacturing and aviation, have leveraged on this sort of incentive to grow. That is the reason we are also looking at that direction.”
Jamoh also spoke on Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP), saying it is being redesigned to make it more effective.
He appealed to the media to ensure adequate and fair reportage on activities of NIMASA, Nigerian maritime industry regulatory agency, in order to properly inform and educate the public.
He said the sector has the potential to exponentially grow Nigerian economy, given the enormous flora and fauna in the maritime environment, besides mineral resources and shipping activities.
In his remarks, President, Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mustapha Isah, said the media is willing to support NIMASA in achieving its mandate.
Mr Isah said the success of the Agency is vital to the whole country, even as he urged his colleagues to give more attention to maritime in their reports.
More so, NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy have recently been getting commendations for their efforts to ensure security in the country’s territorial waters and the Gulf of Guinea.