In spite of the fact that Dakuku Peterside, a former Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency had been replaced by President Muhammadu Buhari, with Bashir Jamoh, the agency, former Executive Director, Finance and Administration, the robust working relationship which he had established with the Nigerian Navy before his exit last March, appear to be yielding result.
This is evident going by the arrest of a Ghanaian fishing vessel, marine 707, at the Gulf of Guinea by the Nigerian Naval personnel on Patrol on May 18, 2020. The Ghana flagged fishing vessel , with the International Maritime Organisation, IMO, a united Nations, UN, maritime agency, Number,7419755 and registration Number 316880, was said to be owned and operated by World Marine Company Limited, Japan, as at the time of the arrest by the Navy.
The Value News learnt that the Ghanaian fishing vessel had authorization to fish in Ghana and Benin, the two West African countries waters, but had been sighted by the Naval personnel on Patrol on Nigerian waters suspected to be carrying out illegal activities. The Naval Patrol Team may have been given the ammunition to go after the vessel when it could not be contacted with its Automatic Identification System, AIS, believed to have been switched off.
The Naval Patrol Team, were said to have succeeded in arresting the Ghanaian fishing vessel which had 51 Crew members on board comprising of 48 Ghanaians and three of the Asia country of Korea Nationals. The vessel was said to have been arrested around the southwest Lagos waters. The arrest of the Ghanaian fishing vessel was said to have sent a signal to other fishing vessels from other countries that might want to go beyond their approved countries of fishing activities to enter into the Nigerian waters or the Gulf of Guinea as the Nigerian Naval personnel are waiting for them.
Maritime watchers disclosed that the Ghanaian fishing vessel was found around the southwest of Lagos waters which facilitated its arrest with ease. This may have informed why Jamoh, the NIMASA , Director General, had warned that ‘’individuals or Organisations thinking of perpetuating any form of illegalities in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea should be ready to face the Consequence with the antipiracy Law in place’’, noting that’’ the partnership between the Navy and the Maritime Regulatory agency ’is waxing stronger daily with major focus on security in the nation’s maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea’’.
Indeed, given the modern equipment that had been acquired by the agency under the previous Management headed by Peterside, which had improved its Surveillance operations, the NIMASA boss had made it clear to those that cares to listen that the agency ‘’will not condone any of illegalities in the country maritime space’’.
He has every reason to beat his chest that the game is up for pirates operating in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea. ’’We have improved our intelligence gathering and sharing with relevant government agencies, particular, the Navy’’ he, had said. He noted that ‘’in no distant time, piracy in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea will be a thing of the past’’.
While the Navy had repeatedly arrested suspected vessels sighted in the country’s maritime space, over alleged illegal activities, the assignment could only be said to have been c completed when the arrested vessels are handed over to the NIMASA, Authorities. This may have informed why the Naval Authorities handed over the arrested Ghanaian flagged fishing vessel and the Crew on board the vessel to NIMASA.
Aniete Ibok, a Naval Cmmodore and the agency Commander , Maritime Guard Command, who was said to have taken delivery of the arrested Ghanaian fishing vessel and the Crew, at the instance of Jamoh, the NIMASA , helmsman, disclosed that partnership between the Navy and NIMASA, which is hinged on intelligence has put the country on’’ the pedestal of winning the war against piracy and other illegal activities in Nigerian waters’’.
The Naval Commodore may have shocked may when he revealed that ‘’ preliminary investigations, has not established that the vessel and her Crew were directly linked to piracy’’, an indication that associating it with pirates activities in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea was wrong.
Perhaps, the only reason, that may have encouraged the Navy to have arrested and detained her before finally taking the bold initiative to handover to the Jamoh led Maritime Regulatory agency was for violating the IMO, Law s for shutting down its AIS, 36 times in the last six months, three of which were said to have been done in Nigerian waters.
The NIMASA , Authorities, in turn were said to have handed over the Ghanaian flagged fishing vessel to the Ghanaian Maritime Administration, which Jamoh, the agency said was done ‘’in the spirit of the bilateral cooperation between Nigeria and Ghana’’.
David Ako Owah, Second Secretary Consular of Ghana in Nigeria, who has the mandate of the Director General, Ghana Maritime Administration to take delivery of the released Ghana flagged vessel which had been in the custody of the Nigerian Navy, Western Naval Command, for days, commended the Nigerian Authorities for being ‘’Professional in handling the case’’. Owah, the Ghana Second Secretary Consular had described ‘’what Nigeria had done to be in the benefit of the entire countries in the Gulf of Guinea
Kim Ln-taek, the Consular General of the Republic of Korea disclosed that his findings from the Captain of the ship who is a Korean National shows that the AIS was bad but not a deliberate action to shut it dowm. The Korean Consular General, who could not hide his feelings asserted that the vessel Crew erred by not following the Protocols of not logging in the record books when the AIS was down. His happiness was that the case has been ‘’resolved up to this point’’ of handing over the vessel and the Crew to their respective countries Consular Generals without any problem.
Only recently the Nigeria Navy arrested 10 pirates on a Chinese fishing vessel in the Gulf of Guinea who were said to have been handed over to the NIMASA Authorities for Prosecution under the current anti-piracy Law.