By Stephen Ubanna
Barely forty eight hours after information filtered out that armed gunmen suspected to be Pirates have kidnapped eight Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, MWUN, members who were said to be travelling to Port Harcourt, Capital of Rivers state along the Kula-Abonnema waterway in Akuku –Toru Local Government Area of the state appears to have forced Bashir Jamoh , Director General , Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA into action.
, The NIMASA Director General who was not perturbed by the news of the abduction of the abduction of the eight MWUN, members, believes that the armed gun have no hiding place as they would surely be fished out. He was said to have deployed, the agency Deep Blue Project Assets, which include the Command,Control. Communication, Computer and Intelligence Centre, the C4I, which was said to be equipped with alert capabilities, Coastal identification system AIS and SAT AIS signals all over the world.
The Command Cenre, which serves also as a liaison with some international security networks for access to database for vessel movement , ability to monitor vessels movement six years backwards, according to informed sources was geared towards the realization of a safe and secured maritime domain in Nigeria.
The NIMASA boss may have known that the armed gun who had kidnapped the eight MWUN members, would not be able to escape to their hideout to ask for ransom because the agency has the trained personnel to man the Control centre, drawn from the military, and other security agencies including the Maritime Regulatory agency. His happiness was that the control centre will bring to an end the nefarious activities of those perpetuating crimes in the nation’s water ways and the coastal areas through monitoring and intelligence gathering.
Note that in the last couple of years, the armed gunmen, suspected to Pirates and sea thieves had concentrated their attacks to ocean going vessels and kidnap of Crew members who were used as bait to Negotiate for ransom which runs into millions of dollars.
With the support of President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired Army General, and the Federal Executive Council, FEC, which had approved $195 million for procurement of maritime assets, the agency had acquired two Special Mission Vessels, and 17 interception Boats. This is in addition to two Special Mission aircrafts for Surveillance of the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone, EEZ, three Special Mission Helicopters for Search and Rescue operations and four unmanned aerial vehicles.
This may have given the NIMASA helmsman was optimistic that if the armed gun who had kidnapped the eight MWUN, in Rivers state have tried o escaped they would haven fallen into the waiting hands of the Deep Blue Project personnel deployed into the Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea since February 2021.
He had alluded to the tremendous gains in the nation’s maritime security sphere in the recent time , which are being recognized world- wide , that even Kitact Lim, the Secretary General of the International Maritime Organsisation, IMO, had commended the progress being made by the current Management in area of maintaining security in Nigerian waters.
The no nonsense Jamoh, described as a workaholic in maritime circles may have alluded to fact that the arms gunmen operating in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea, are now running away from‘’the intense heat in the nation’s territorial waters, to operate in the coastal areas to continue their criminal enterprise as the agency has begun the enforcement of the Deep Blue Project’’.
THere is no gain saying the fact, NIMASA Deep Blue Project , personnel, have stepped up its Patrol the nation’s coastal areas in the recent time ‘’to nip in the bud the Pirates who harass passengers and oil workers in the coastal area. The recent kidnap of eight MWUN, members, along the Kula- Abonnema water ways in Rivers state speaks volume.
The NIMASA Director General who expressed had sadness over the incident ahad mobilised his Deep Blue Project personnel to free the Union members. This is because of his promise to secure Nigerian maritime waters on assumption of duties in March 10, 2021. They were said to have succeeded in their effort to ensure that the eight abducted MWUN, members regain their freedom with payment of any ransom.
An elated Jamoh was said to have broken the cheery news of the release of the eight kidnapped maritime workers by armed gunmen suspected to be Pirates, to Adewale Adeyaju, the Union President-General, who was Completely in the dark and helpless in a ‘’tTelephone conversation on Saturday, July 24, 2021. The cheery news was said to have given joy over the weekend that he dine and wine with his close associates, expressing his Appreciation to Jamoh, the NIMASA boss who had mobilized his agency maritime assets to save the eight kidnapped members. His happiness is that NIMASA,now has a Chief Executive Officer, CEO, who is working assiduously, day and night to secure Nigerian waters and to ensure safety of Nigerians and Foreigners using Nigerian maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea.
The good news was that the armed gunmen did not have the opportunity to molest the eight abducted eight MWUN, members, as they were said in to be in ‘’good physical condition when they regained their freedom’’. Meanwhile, Adeyaju, the MWUN, President -General has promised the NIMASA helmsman , that he will provide him with the detailed report on the incidents surrounding the abduction of the eight members of the Union next week. The report will g o a long way to assist the agency in the patrol of the coastal to prevent a future occurrence.
The armed gun who may have seen that there is no hope of making money from the eight abducted MWUN, members, who were said to be oil workers, may have escaped to avoid arrest and subsequently tried under the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Related Offences, SPOMO Act which was signed into Law by the Katsina born Nigerian President in June 2019.
Only recently the Jamoh led agency had dragged one Frank AAbaka and nine other members of his Piracy gang who had attacked and allegedly hijacked a Chinese fishing vessel , FFV Hai Lu Feng 11, in the coast of the West African country of West African country of CoteD’Ivore in May, 2021 , to a Federal High Court in Lagos. Osagie Edward an Assistant Director, in the agency Public Relations Department of the agency had said that culprits were armed with weapons
The culprits who were said to have beenS tried under SPOMO Act. The 10 Pirates were said to have been convicted to 12 years imprisonment each on all four count charges as charged by the presiding Judge, Justice Ayokunle Faji and Payment of a Cumulative fine of N10million.
The Landmark judgment may have emboldened the NIMASA helmsman to reassure Industry stakeholders that he and his Management Team, will not rest on their oars to fish out all the Pirates and sea thieves operating in the Nigerian Maritime domain and prosecuted under the tested legal instrument of the SOMO Act, described as a major tool in Nigerian’s quest to the Piracy activities in the Gulf of Guinea.