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NIMASA: Under Intense Pressure From The International Community To Adopt Tougher measures Against Pirates Following Attack On A Turkish Container Vessel, Off Coast Of Nigeria

By Stephen Ubanna

The attack of a Turkish Crewed  MOZART Container vessel ,  operated   by Boden Denizcilik shipping  Company, AS Istabul, Turkey, which has  Bomar Mozart LLC, as the registered owner in 2018, and the  kidnap of 15 seafarers by four well- armed Pirates with explosives, off  Nigeria’s  coast in the Gulf of Guinea on Saturday, January 23,21,  may have forced Bashir Jamoh, Director General , Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NMASA, and his Management Team, to take tougher measure to deal decisively with the Pirates and protect shippers .

The Liberian flagged vessel, built in 2007, with the International Maritime Oganisation, IMO, No. 9337274, MMSI 636018378, which  has  a  gross tonnge  of 28616, also has a capacity 2824 TEU . The Pirates may have succeed in their Saturday, January 23, 21, attack on the MOZART Container  vessel, which they had boarded at gun point  because they  had breached  the ship protective citadel  with explosives, showing how deadly the Pirates operating  in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea had become in the recent time.

Recall that in 2020, alone,  the Pirates,  operating between Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea, which borders more than  a dozen of countries , in the West and Central African sub-regions, had  kidnapped  more than 130 seafarers in 22  different incidents, and accounted for all but  five of  the vessels seized  worldwide going by the report  of the International Maritime Bureau. There is no gainsaying the fact   the Gulf of Guinea , off the coasts  of Nigeria, Guinea, Togo,  Benin and Cameroon,  is the most  dangerous area in the world of Piracy.

Jomoh: Under Intense Pressure From the International Community To Adopt Tougher Measures Against Pirates

Informed sources told The Value News that the attack on the Turkish Crews Mozart Container vessel has raised international pressure  on NIMASA and the Ibok-Ete  Ekwe Ibas , a Vice Admiral, led Nigerian Navy, to do more  to protect shippers, which have called for tougher actions in recent weeks. Security experts fear that for Pirates to resort   to the  use of sophisticated ammunitions  is an indication that the Piracy activities  in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea is getting  more deadlier  by the day.

Given that the Turkish Container Crew vessel , has been confirmed    to be in the Central African country of  Gabon waters and that  the Gabonese sailours  who were  a few  nautical  miles away from the port of Genti has made  appreciable effort to save the e vessel from damage,the news making rounds was that the   ship’s fourth Captain,  Furkan Yaren, had been cruising blindly since the attack on Saturday , toward Gabon,  with damage to the ship controls as only the radar are  currently working for now.

As at  press time,  the Pirates , who were said to have  kidnapped the 15 crewed Turkish Container vessel, had  not contacted  the Gabonese  Authorities or the  Bodem Company Management  for Negotiation to facilitate the release of the  sailors.

That much was confirmed by  Mevlut  Cavusoglu, the Turkey Foreign minister.  He had said  that ’’the Pirates had only  spoken after a time  to make their demands’’, noting that   all kinds of preparation  and work have been done to facilitate the release of the Crew.

Determined  to stop the Piracy attacks  in the Gulf of Guinea, Jamoh, the NIMASA , Director Gneral,  had told  Milland Dixon Dikio, a retired  army Colonel and Interim Sole Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP, recently,  in his Abuja office  that   in the fight against Piracy  and  other Criminal activities in Nigerian  maritime domain,  the agency has been working in partnership    with other agencies  that are maritime related    ‘’ to collectively come up  with solutions  to tackle the menace in the country’’.

Aware of the dangers of Piracy to the country’s economy, Jamoh, the NIMASA  boss,  who has been described as a man of vision by Dikio, the PPAP,  interim Sole Administrator,   had confirmed the establishment of   a maritime Intelligence Unit in the agency  that would ‘’ help in the identification  of early  warning signs of Pirates attacks   in order to prevent  security breaches  in Nigerian waters.   Many believe that without the establishment of the Maritime Intelligence Unit in the agency,   and the recent   installation as well as  deployment  of the many of the maritime assets that had been supplied by the Israeli security firm, HLS Systems  and Technologies Limited, which had won the $195 million Contract  in 2017,    under the Integrated  National Security  and Water Ways Protection Infrastructure, popular, Deep Blue, Project, the situation in Nigeria waters and Gulf of Guinea, particular,  the Niger Delta , region, may have been worse.

 Recall that the Israeli security firm, had  already  delivered two Umanned Aerial  Vessels, and Two Special mission vessels to the agency . This is in addition to 17  fast  interceptor boats and 15 armoured vehicles.   The $195 million maritime assets, according to Jamoh, the NIMASA, Director General,  were fitted with ‘’ intelligence gathering  capabilities  through air, land and sea’’. This may have turned out to be a major check  on  the Pirates operating in Nigeria waters and the Gulf of Guinea in the recent time. But the international Community still want the NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy to adopt  tougher measures  to deal the with the Gulf of Guinea pirates  since other countries  within the region  have failed to do their own part, blaming it  on lack of resources  to effectively Patrol their own area of the Gulf of Guine.           

Stephen Ubanna

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