By tephen Ubanna
Bashir Jamoh, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, over the last two years, with the support of President Muhammadu Buhari, has been battling the Lloyds Insurance of London and other multinational Insurance Companies including the International shipping Companies to to remove Nigeria from the list of war risk countries and stop collecting War Insurance Premium on Nigeria-bound ships .
The Director General was said to have repeatedly told the Leadership of the Foreign Insurance Companies at every forum, that there was no basis for Nigeria shippers to be paying war Insurance Premium because the country has overcome the criminal activities of the pirates, sea robbers and othercriminal activities with the efforts of the Nigerian Navy, under the close watch of Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo.
The NIMASA, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians when he disclosed that the country will be removed from the war risk countries and subsequently stop paying the war insurance premium which covers damage due to acts of war, including invasion, insurrection , rebellion and hijacking in 2023 , because of the drastic reduction in pirates attacks in Nigerian maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea.
He may have been encouraged to fight for the removal Of the war risk insurance on Nigeria-bound cargoes by international shipping companies coming to the country because of a report by Ocean Beyond Piracy, BOP, that Nigerian-bound ships transiting the Gulf of Guinea had incured additional total Insurance premium cost of $55 million 2020 while 35 percent of ships transiting the area also carried additional kidnap and ransom insurance cost , totaling $100 million, thus bringing the cumulative premium insurance payment on Nigerian bound-ships to $1055 million.
The NIMASA helmsman may not have been alone in fighting for foreign Insurance Companies and the International shipping Companies for the removal of Nigeria from the war risk zone.The International Maritime Organisation, IMO, were said to have also joined forces with the agency to call for the removal of Nigeria from the list of the war risk countries, hinging it to the reduction or near total eradication of pirates attacks on ships in Nigeria waters and the Gulf of Guinea.
The Maritime regulatory agency could achieve all that feat with the deployment of the HLSI Services and Technologies Limited, an Israeli firm, contracted by the Buhari Administration, at a cost of $195 million to supplysome land, sea and air equipment.
The Israeli security firm between 2020 and the tail end of 2022, had delivered to the agency 16 armoured vehicles, for coastal patrol, 17 Fast Interceptor Boats, and two Special Mission Boats, that are currently being operated and maintained by the Nigeria Navy.
The Israeli security firm, was said to have also delivered to NIMASA, two Special Mission aircrafts, for surveillance of Nigerian Exclusive Economic zone, EEZ, three helicopters and four Aerial vehicles, that are operated and maintained by the Nigeria Air Force.
Indeed, the synergy between NIMASA and the other security agencies appear to have sent a message to the pirates and sea robbers which had persistently attacked ocean –going vessels transiting the Gulf of Guinea into Nigeria , that the game is up for them to park and go to another Location as Nigeria waters are no longer safe for them to operate.
AVM Gambo, the Chief of Naval Staff, was the first person to give a hint that Nigeria has been removed from the list of countries paying war risk insurance premium by the International shipping companies on Thursday, February 23, 2023, in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
His revelation was quickly followed by the confirmation by Jamoh, the NIMASA Director General. He had said that the achievement was a ‘’product of well-structured multi-modal policy which has been implemented over the years to fight piracy and other criminalities in Nigeria waters’’.
He noted that the legal instrument called the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences, SPMO passed by the National Assembly, and signed into Law by the Katsina state born Nigerian President into Law in 2019, the full implementation of the Deep Blue Project , expanded assets and capacity of AVM , Gambo led Nigerian Navy, enhanced Cooperation between NIMASA and the Navy, and the regional Collaborative efforts under the umbrella of SHADE, Gulf of Guinea, midwifed by NIMASA, were all instrumental to the drastic reduction of piracy activities in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea . An elated Jamoh, had said that the agency are focused on ‘’ultimately improving and reducing the cost of commercial shipping in Nigeria’’.
The International Bargaining Frum, IBF, a body that brings together members of the International Transport Federation, ITF, and the International Maritime Employers, to a Joint Negotiation Group, was said to have facilitated the removal of Nigeria from war risk countries for the importers to enjoy a new lease of life..
The Group was said to have listed five designated areas and applicable benefits in the event of attacks leading to deaths and disability, mentioning he Gulf of Guinea as the second extended war risk zone covering Liberia/ Coted’Ivoire border to Angola/ Zambia.
Maritime analysts believe that the collaborative efforts of NIMASA, and the Nigerian Navy, which had enhanced the security architecture in the country’s sea planes may have encouraged the foreign shipping companies to remove Nigeria from the list of countries that are paying war risk insurance premium on ships which destination is Nigeria by Lloyds of London , United Kingdom.
Given that there was no incident of piracy attacks in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea between January , 2023 and now, may have informed why the IBF, has called for double compensation by the foreign Insurance Companies and the International shipping firms for seafarers who die or suffer disability on the date of the last attack on vessels in the Gulf of Guinea in 2023, that was forestalled.