Anti-Piracy War: Lim, IMO, Secretary General, Applauds Jamoh, Director General, NIMASA, And Nigeria’s Leadership Role In Curbing Piracy Activities In The GoG, For The Second Time In Five Months

 

By Stephen Ubanna

Between March 10, 2020, and now ,  Kitack Lim, Secretary General,  International Maritime Organisation, IMO,  a,  United Nations UN, maritime agency, responsible for regulating global shipping activities, who has been  observing   Bashir Jamoh, Director General , Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA and his , and his leadership style which has intensified the fight against  Piracy   and other Criminal  activities in Nigerian waters and the Gulf Of Guinea, GoG.

The IMO Secretary Gene may have become convinced that Jamoh is doing  well in ensuring the security of ocean going vessels in Nigerian waters and the GoG, as  Nigeria maintains  its  Leadership role in the region in the fight  against piracy  . In a recent  Congratulatory  letter , that was said to have been sent to  Jamoh, the NIMASA boss,   signed by Heike Deggim,  Director, Maritime Safety Division ,  he had highlighted  ‘’the agency’s  contribution to the war against Piracy  and other  maritime crimes in Nigerian waters and  the GoG.

 He was said to have also cited the implementation of ‘’the suppression of Piracy  and other maritime Offences, SPOMO, , Act, 2019, as well as the initiation of the multi-billion dollar integrated National Security and Waterways Protection, popular,   Deep  Blue Project as other  reasons why Jamoh deserved Commendations.

 Indeed,the NIMASA , Director General has every reason to take security of Nigerian waters and the GoG,  very serious on assumption of office last March. This is because  the  country was alleged to be losing  close to $2.3  billion annually due to the activities of Pirates and other Criminal elements operating in Nigerian waters and the GoG.

Take for instance , in July 2020  alone, there were 53 reported cases of  Piracy  and   armed robbery that  occurred around the GoG. This is 27% increase , according to maritime sources  from the figure recorded the same period in 2019. But  the International Maritime  Bureau, IMB, in its  recent report,   has recorded  a rise  in Piract and armed robbery accidents on the first nine months of this year in the GoG alone. The Bureau hand recorded  a 40% increase  in the number of kidnappings in the GoG  alone, compared to the same period in 2019.

Pirates  armed with  machine guns and killer  knives were said to have abducted bigger groups  of Seafarers  at further distances  of the West. The IMB had recorded  132 attaks  between January and Septe,ber 2020., up from 119, in 2019 incidents in the same period last year. The Value News learnt that of the 85 Crew  Seafarers  kidnapped from  their vessels and held for ramsome , 80  were taken   in the GoG, in 14 attacks  reported in Nigeria, Benin, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Ghana.

 It is on record that in the first nine months of this year, seafarers had reported  134 cases of attack, injurt and threats, including 85  Crew members  being kidnapped  and being held hostage  onboard their ships. It was gathered that  112 vessels were boarded  and six were fired upon  while there were 12 reported attacks.  Two fishing Trawlers  were said to have been hijacked,IN the GoG.

Security experts believe that  the pirates gang   in the GoG are ‘’well organised which makes it possible for them to target  all types f vessel, Trawlers, Container ships,  over a wide range’’. Recall that on July 17, 2020,  eight suspected Pirates   armed with sophisticated weapons  boarded a product tanker  underway around  196 nautical miles south west of oil-rich Bayelsa state, south-south Nigeria. They were said to have  held all 19 Crew members on bondage, stole ship documents  and valuable items.  They were said to have escaped with  with 13 kidnapped Crew to an uknown location.  Regional Authoities were said to have alerted about the attack  and the 13 Crew members  were released  a month  later. The  more disturbing was the September  8, 2020 attack   by armed Pirates on a refrigerated  cargo ship  under  around  33 nautical miles  south west of Lagos, Nigeria. Two Crew membes were said to have been kidnapped.

  There indications that Jamoh’s anti-Piracy  efforts over the last six  months   had frustrated attempts   by the dare- devils Criminal elements in boarding   vessels  and attempted boarding  to steal valuable items   from ships  and kidnap Crew members.

Lim, IMO Secretary General, Commends Jamoh, DG, NIMASA, And Nigeria’s Leadrship Role In Curbing Piracy In The GoG

The IMO Secretary General , who could not hide his feelings had  said the Commendation letter sent to  the NIMASA  Director General   was a ‘’proof  of the country’s  abiding determination to lead  the war against maritime crimes in the GoG ’’. He  noted that  ‘’from the successful enactment  of the Legislation  in the form of  the Suppression  of Piracy  and other  Maritime Offences  Act 2019,  complete with  the forthcoming guidelines, to the initiation  and  implementation of  the C4i Deep Blue Project, ’’ Nigeria has continued to demonstrate  its Leadership role  in the   GoG   with regard to maritime  domain awareness and  enhancement  of maritime security  among  littoral states’’.

 It is instructive to note that Jamoh, the NIMASA, boss in a virtual address   to a meeting  of the  G7+ Group friends of the GoG Guinea, G7+GOG, recently,  had stressed  the country’s efforts    ‘’to rid the  GoG of, maritime Crime, using local  initiatives  anchored on the Deep Blue Project, with the Command, Control, Communication, Computers and Intelligence centre, C4i centre, SPOMO act 2019, and intensified regional Cooperation. The G7+FOGG, The Value News was informed which  was  formed in 2013  during the British Presidency of the Group was basically to support  the maritime security architecture developed  under  the Yaunde Code of Conduct  for the region .

The Code of Conduct  was said to have been developed by the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS,  Economic Community of Central African States and , ECASA,  and GoG  Commission, GoGC,  with a focus  on the suppression of Piracy,  armed robbery against ocean-going vessels,  and illicit  maritime activities  in the West and Central  sub-regions.

The G7+FOGG countries  include  Germany, Italy, Japan, France, United Kingdom, UK,  and the North American country of the United States, Us. Others are  Belgium, Brazil, which has the observer  status,  Denmark,  Netherland, the European Union, EU,, United Nations office  on Drugs and Crime, UNODC, and the INTERPOL.

Jamoh had  acknowledged  the Challenge  of Piracy  and armed robbery in Nigerian waters and the GoG, but  said there was no cause for arm.  He had said‘’Our solution to addressing the problem of insecurity in the  GoG are home- grown , with the member countries Cooperating among themselves’’ He stated further, ‘’ Commitment to this cause  has become imperative’’ and no going back’’.

Perhaps, what may have encouraged the NIMASA , Director General, to  champion the anti-Piracy war in the GOG, was his believe  that ‘’the Gulf of Guinea  is Nigeria and Nigeria is the Gulf of Guinea’’.  That much was confirmed by Philip Kaynet, a Deputy Director and the agency Head of Corporate Communications,

 Given an insider information on the role of Nigeria on the anti-piracy war in the GoG, he stated, ‘’we  recognised the country’s  strategic Leadership position   which had  informed  the  extent of work  on the integrated  system of investment in the nation’s maritime domain to  curb criminality, ranging from  enactment of designated Legislation  to development of Human Capacity and procurement of Critical  hardware and platforms.

Deggim, who had signed a Congratulatory  letter that was sent to the  NIMASA, boss at the instance of  Lim, the IMO, Secretary General,  had said that the agency ‘’remain committed  to supporting the good works  being done at the Gulf of Guinea  by Nigeria  to improve  maritime governance  and to  enhance  maritime security  in terms of both current and emerging  threats  and challenges in the region’’.This may have informed why the  UN maritime agency  had said that ‘’it is imperative  that the GoG states  adopt strategic approach , in order  to ensure  effective  implementation of Compliance’’.

Recall that Lim, the IMO, Secretary, had in June, barely three months in office of Jamoh, as the Director General, NIMASA,  sent  a message of Congratulations  to him   following the arrest and prosecution  of some suspected Pirates  in Nigerian waters. Lim, had said that ‘’ the moves has sent  a strong and valuable message  to the international Community about the West African country’s Commitment  to Safety and Security  in its waters and the Gulf of Guinea.

He may have gladdened the heart of Jamoh,  when he stated in the Congratulatory message to him: I  commend your Leadership of NIMASA and your  Proactive response  to anti-piracy matters. He was said to have also  extended the same appreciation to the Nigerian Navy  under the close watch of Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, a Vice Admiral,  on the successful  capture and arrest of the Pirates from the fishing  trwler  Haifeng  11,  and more  recently  on the rescue of the Crew members of the Containership Tommi Ritscher.

He noted that ‘’those actions, together  with all the other initiatives   highlighted in their recent meeting , including the progress so far made on the $195 million  Deep Blue Project, for supply of  anti-piracy equipment by the HLS, Technological Services Limited , an Israeli Security firm has sent a strong message  to the international Community about the Considerable efforts being made by the current Management of the Maritime Regulatory agency,  under the  ‘s Leadership to curb Piracy  and armed  robbery against ocean- going vessels  in the Gulf of Guinea’’.

The NIMASA Director General had confirmed  that over 80% of the maritime assets  which includes Helicopter interceptors,  Interceptor boats,  Unmanned aerial vehicles, Special Mission Aircrafts, SMA,  Armoured vehicles,, that would be operated by Special Intervention  team,  and also linked  to the C4i had been delivered by the Israeli security firm. This is in addition to the  supply of Special Mission Vessels, SMV,  baptized DB Lagos and DB Abuja. The SMV, according NIMASA sources are  equipped  with intelligence gathering  Capability   for time detection and response  to illegal activities in Nigeria waters and the GoG.    

Appreciating the call by the International stakeholders  for multi-stakeholders Cooperation  to contain Piracy ,Kidnapping and other Criminal activities in the  GoG, the NIMASA  boss was said to have assured the international Community that there is no cause for alarm, as Nigeria,  which had taking up the Leadership role in the GoG,  ‘’is working  with the IMO  to develop  a National Maritime Security Strategy.

As a prelude to achieving this, he disclosed that the agency had already  started work in order   to form  a National  Maritime Security Committee consisting of the office of the National Security Adviser, NSA, Navy, Nigerian Air Force ,INTERPOL, Marine Police and other relevant security agencies .According to him, ‘’ the Committee will give focus  and strategic direction  to the planned national maritime security effort’’.

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