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Anti-Piracy: How Bashir Jamoh Won The Heart Of Kitack Lim, IMO, Secretary General

 

Stephen Ubanna

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. 

Jamoh: DG, NIMASA

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.   

Kitack Lim: Secretary general, IMO

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.     

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Stephen Ubanna

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