Why Piracy Is On The Decline In The GoG, Region, As NIMASA Investigates FPSO Fire Incident  

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By Stephen Ubanna

 When Bashir Jamoh, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, promised to address the problems of maritime safety and maritime security, in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea, GoG, on assumption of duties in March 2021, to drive away  the Pirates  disturbing ocean- going vessels in Nigerian waters and the GOG, in March 2021, nobody took him serious.

He was said to have repeatedly made it clear to those care to listen that the goal was ‘’to eliminate entirely such incidents’’  in which the region had lost  over N800 million  in GoG, alone. Pundits fear that he may not achieve the goal because past NIMASA,  Chief Executives had made such promises but failed to keep to it. This is because of the situation in the region described as a haven for  Pirates,thus forcing most of the shipping   Companies to engage the services of private security outfits to protect their vessels to forestall  any attack

NIMASA Special Mission vessel Used In Tackling Pirates In Nigerian Exclusive Economic Zone, EEZ

Indeed, Jamoh and his Management Team, may have gone back to the drawing board to address the problems with the support of President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army general, who had spent 195 million to procure maritime security equipment, comprising of 16  armoured vehicles for Costal Patrol, 17 Fast Interceptor Boats,  Two Special Mission aircrafts. Two Special Mission vessels, Three Special Mission Helicopters stationed at the Naval base Apapa and   four unmanned Aerial vehicles for the maritime security agency  for  the National Inland Waterways  Protection Infratructure, popular, deep Blue project.

 With the delivery of the equipment from the Israeli firm,  HLSI Security Systems  and Technologies Limited, that had won the contract  in 2017, between 202 and May 2021,  to tackle maritime security  and safety issues, both on Land, sea and air, in Nigerian  maritime water and the GOG, informed sources told The Value News, that Jamoh, the NIMASA , Director General had kept to his words by ensuring   a consistent  month to month  drop  in the number  of attacks  on ships   in the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone, EEZ,

In doing so,  the agency had engaged the Army, Airforce, Navy and the police.  The NIMASA boss may have given a hint to the international Community last December that there was no cause to worry about international vessels entering Nigerian waters or the  GOG.   He had presented a paper entitled ‘’Seafarers and Maritime  Capacity  at the core of Africa’s  Shipping Future’’, at a Roundtable , where he was said to have highlighted  the consistent declines both in the attack on ships and kidnapping of Crew members in Nigerian waters and the GOG. The NIMASA helms man may have gladdened the heart of the participants at the Roundtable Conference when he disclosed   that between January and September 2021,  GoG region  recorded  28  incidents of Piracy attacks  compared to 46  for the same period in 2020.

The number of Pirates in the region, according to the NIMASA, Director General, rose to t 34, which he had described as a very impressive record, that should be celebrated by Nigerians. Officials of the International Maritime Bureau, IMB, had said that ‘’the Piracy   incidents  in Nigerian waters and he GOG, dropping  from 81  in 2020 to 34  I 2021, , representing  58.02% was not an accident’’. The IMB officials had attributed it to ‘’the product of  Conscious  collaborative  efforts  by the maritime Regulatory agency , the Nigerian Navy and other industry stakeholders in the region’’.

 The IMB report was said to have also shown a decline in the number of Crew kidnapping incidents  in the region from  150 to 57 in 2021. There are indications that the number of Piracy incidents and Crew kidnappings in the region will further decline  with  international  support, particular, the European Union, EU, United Kingdom and the North American Country of the United States, US. The Italian government have been very appreciative of the efforts of Jamoh led NIMASA, to rid Nigerian waters and the GOG , of Pirate  activities,  ostensibly to protect ocean going vessels that it  was said to have  donated  a Patrol vessel to the agency  which the NIMASA  ,  CEO,  had said that they would need about   $1.4 million to take to take to the country.

In a  related development  the NIMASA Director General has given an insight  on the collection  statutory Levies  from industry stakeholders, tackle insecurity in Nigerian waters and the GOG, stressing that  that ‘’the levies  are in accordance  with the  provisions  of the Act  setting up the agency in 2007.

The charges,  are the component  of the  Gross freight which the Act says must be paid  by the shipowners  not interms  of product  to marketers  or any entity ‘’. It is instructive to note that all the payments are made in foreign currency ,  into the Single Treasury Account  of the Federal government  with the Central Bank  of Nigeria, CBN, under the close watch of Godwin Emefiele.   It could not be ascertained how muh is in the Acoount for now as it is  still a closely guided secret.

Recall that the NIMASA boss had taken advantage  of the recent interactive session with  maritime Journalists in Lagos to open  up on its contribution  to the nation’s  Consolidated revenue Fund, stressing that  it  generated  N31 billion in 2020, which rose to N37 billion in 2021, showing an increase of  N43.6%, which were paid into the Federal Sing Digit  government Account with the CBN,  This clearly shows that the agency are not only pursuing Pirates and Kinappers , in Nigerian waters and the GOG, but also looking  for ways to improve on its revenue generation to pay into the Federation Account  to join the league of the revenue generating agencies  like  Nigerian National Petroleum Corporatiion, NNPC, now bptised Nigerial National Petroleum Company Limited, NNPC, GOING by the NIA, that had been assented to by the Katsina born Nigerian President,  Nigerian Cutoms Service, NCS and Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS.

Note that the amount paid by the agency into the Federation Account was quite different from the amount domiciled in the Vessel Financing Fund, VFF,, with the CBN. As at May 201, Jamoh had said that the total amount  from the three percent levy on ocean going vessels calling at the nation’s ports  was  N32 billion and $209 million. An insider told The Magazine that the VFF, is growing on a daily basis but could not reconcile how much is currently in the Account.  The source  had said that the erstwhile Goodluck Administration had spent part of the money, noting that the agency Accounts Department are working round the clock to reconcile the figures.

FPSO,UmkpokitiTerminal, Fire Incident

Edward Osagie , Assistant Director and the agency acting spokesperson had said that the recent fire incident  that gutted  Shebah Exploration & Production  Company Limited,  offshore  facility, Trinity  Spirit Floating Production Storage  and Offloading , FPSO, facility,  at Ukpokiti terminal, in Delta state, is currently receiving the attention of   Jamoh, led Management.

 The NIMASA Director General, who had described the incident  as ‘’unfortunate’’ , the agency spokesperson  had said   is working  with other  relevant agencies ‘’to establish  the immediate  and remote causes  of the fire explosion, to avoid a repeat in the future’’.

 He was said to have   assured  the  Company, that owned the FPSO, that  that the agency  will’’ work  with the International Maritime Organisation, a maritime agency  of the United Nations, UN,  through the use  of International  Oil Pollution Compensation , IOPC,  Funds,  to ensure that the Company is  adequately Compensated  of  all the losses   incurred in the fire explosion within and around  its facility.  This should serve as a good news to Ikemefuna Okafor, the CEO,  of the Company, who had said that  fire was caused  by an explosion  that is currently been investigated, confirming what the NIMASA , Director General had said..


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