With the detention of a Ghanaian fishing vessel , marine 707, which was authorised to carry out its fishing operation in Ghana and Benin Republic waters, but was later found in south west Lagos, leading to its arrest on May 18, 2020 including the 51 Crew members, comprising of 48 Ghanaians and three Koreans, may have drawn the attention of Kitack Lim, Secretary General General, International Maritime Organisation, IMO, a United Nations, UN, maritime agency to Nigerian’s anti-piracy war in the country waters and the Gulf of Guinea.
The action may have encouraged him to take a closer look at the Collaboration between Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy in prosecuting the anti-piracy war in the country’s waters and the notorious Gulf of Guinea over the last four years, particular, since the signing of the anti-piracy Law by President Muhammadu Buhari, last June.
The signing of the anti-piracy bill into Law by the Katsina born Nigerian President may have opened the floodgate for suspected Pirates arrested by the Nigerian Naval personnel on patrol and then handed over to the Bashir Jamoh led NIMASA, for Prosecution under the new Law.
Dakuku Peterside, a former Director General, of the agency was said to have started the Sensitisation Campaign about the new anti-piracy Law but that was how far he could go. Jamoh, the then Executive Director, Finance and Administration, who had worked closely with him over the last two years, may have seen that the only way to win the heart of officials of the IMO, particular, Lim, the Secretary General, would be the prosecution of the Pirates caught in the act to serves as a deterrence to others without foot dragging on the matter. He got it right.
Unknown to the NIMASA officials,, the prosecution of the first set of suspected Pirates handed over to the agency by the Navy appear to have won the heart of Lim, the IMO, Secretary General, who would want other Maritime nations within the Gulf of Guinea to take a cue from Nigeria.
The message sent to Jamoh, the agency, Director General by Lim, which was said to have been personally signed by him was very revealing. He noted that’’ it has sent a strong and valuable message to the International Community that it is no longer going to be business as usual for Pirates operating in the Nigerian Water Ways and the Gulf of Guinea to molest ocean going vessels and their Crew on Board as they could easily fall into the waiting hands of the Nigerian Navy and their NIMASA Collaborators .
The UN, maritime agency, Secretary general had commended the NIMASA’s Director General efforts, to curb piracy activities in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea. He may have given Jamoh, the NIMASA , boss a word of encouragement to intensify the anti-piracy war in the Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea as he gave kudos to him for his ‘’brave and dynamic approach to the country’s maritime security ‘’ in the recent time’’. Note that the NIMASA helmsman , from the onset had set as one of his agendas, security of the nation’s maritime domain. The prosecution of the Pirates caught in the act who were said to have been handed over to the Maritime Regulatory agency by the Navy recently bear eloquent testimony to its seriousness in dealing with the criminal elements.
The Law, according to the IMO Chief Executive Officer, CEO, has made Nigeria , the first country in the West African Sub-region to have a distinct antipiracy legislation. ‘’I am impressed by Nigeria’s efforts to address maritime security threats in the region ‘’, he remarked. He described ‘’ Jamoh’s leadership and proactive response to such security issues as very valuable’’.
Recall that the NIMASA Director General had told Lim, the IMO , Secretary General, in one of their virtual meetings following the arrest of some suspected Pirates by the country’s Naval personnel on Patrol , in partnership with the agency Maritime Guards Command, which has Aniete Ibok, a Naval Commodore, as the Commander, that Piracy in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea have been sustained over the years by ” powerful Foreign Collaborations”.
He may have given the IMO Secretary General, a food for thought when he disclosed that ‘’the recent arrests of some Pirates in the Gulf of Guinea by the Nigerian Navy had opened the NIMASA, officials eyes to a new and even more dangerous dimension to the issue of piracy and armed robbery in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea, stressing that “it remains the problem of Foreign Collaboration’’. He was said to have revealed that the suspected pirates arrested by the Naval personnel on Patrol in the Nigerian waters include some Nigerians and other Nationalities of undisclosed identities.
This may have informed why he had appealed to the IMO boss to reach out to the member countries of the Organisation to seek their support in order to Complement the steps already taken by the Nigerian government towards riding the country’s water Ways and the Gulf of Guinea of maritime crimes .
The IMO ,Secretary General was said to have agreed to talk to the member countries of the Organisation to support Nigeria in the fight against piracy. He was said to have given his words that the UN ,maritime agency, would be involved in the training of the agency personnel as well as provide it with technical support in its anti-piracy operations. This may have gladdened the heart of Jamoh and his Maritime Guard Command personnel, who are all out to deal decisively with the Pirates operating in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea.
Jamoh led NIMASA , may not have been the only agency that was recognised by Lim, the IMO, Secretary General, of doing a good work to contain the activities of the Pirates and sea robbers, in the country, he was said to have also recognised the contribution of Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, a Vice Admiral and General Officer, Commanding, GOC, the Nigerian Navy, and his officers, ’’ in the country’s anti-piracy war, particular, the recent ‘’successful capture and arrest of Pirates from the fishing trawler Hailufeng II and the rescue of the Crew members of the Containerised vessel, Tommi Ritscher’’.
Lim, had said that the actions, together with other initiatives of the Navy and the Deep sea Blue Project, initiated by the agency with the support of Rotimi Amaechi, the minister of Transportation, ‘’has sent a strong and valuable message to the International Community about the government’s efforts ‘’to curb piracy and armed robbery against ships in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea’’.
The recent visit of Jamoh, the NIMASA , Director General, to Ete-Ekwe Ibas, the Chief of Naval Staff, CNS, at the Naval Headquarters in Abuja gives an insight of the improved working relationship between the two parties . Jamoh, had explained that the improved Collaboration between the agency and the Navy would change the ugly narrative of Piracy and sea robbery in the country’s maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea.
According to him, the new Collaborative effort involves information sharing between NIMASA’s Maritime Guard Command , Control, Communication , Computers and Intelligence center, popular, c4i of the Deep Sea Blue project which had commenced operations on a 24 hours basis in last one year.
The improved Collaboration between the two parties may have informed why the Naval personnel on Patrol could easily track and combat the criminal elements in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea with ease. This may have informed why Jamoh could beat his chest that any individual or Organisation thinking to perpetuate any form of illegal activities in Nigerian waters or the Gulf of Guinea would be disappointed as the Navy and the agency Maritime Guard Command personnel are waiting for them.
He has sent a strong message to the Pirates and sea robbers that anyone caught in the act should be ready to face the full weight of the anti-piracy Law as the partnership between the agency and the Navy is waxing stronger with major focus on security in the Nigerian maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea.