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NIMASA:Jamoh Harps On Synergy Between Industry Stakeholders To Tackle Piracy And Other Maritime – related Crimes

By Stephen Ubanna

 Barely one week after  the Nigerian Maritime Administration  and Safety Agency, NIMASA, and  the Federal Department of   Fisheries and Aquaculture, agreed to continuously  Collaborate  on ‘’modalities  for Registration, survey and Licensing of fishing vessels to ensure that all safety standards are met’’, Bashir Jamoh, Director General,  of the Maritime Regulatory agency,  has restated  ‘’the need  for enhanced  stakeholders  collaboration  in tackling Piracy and sea thieves  in the Nigerian Economic Exclusive Zone, EEZ, and the Gulf of Guinea.

Jamoh, the NIMASA, Director General, had made the call in the ancient city of Kano, when he presented a paper titled ‘’Enhancing Collaboration amongst stakeholders for Improved Maritime security in Nigeria’’at the Chief of Naval Staff Annual Conference, CONSAC, amidst great applause.

Vice Admial gambo: CNS

Drawing example from  the terrorist attacks  of 9-11 on the North American country of the United States, US, in 2001,  and the report of the 9-11 Commission, which had  indicted the security agencies Operatives for failing  to share real-time  intelligence,  may have informed why the NIMASA Chief Executive Officer, CEO, had urged  industry stakeholders ‘’to learn to share  their toys’’ in a bid to close  ranks  and tighten  the security  ring  around the nation’s maritime domain against Piracy and other maritime-related crimes.

The NIMASA CEO, had Observed that ‘’the economic  cost  of maritime insecurity was more pronounced  in Nigeria compared  to other countries in the West and Central African sub-regions. He noted that while  the economic  cost of  Piracy activities in the Asian countries, including China,  was estimated  at $4.5 million in 2016,  the  estimated  economic cost  of maritime insecurity  in the Gulf of Guinea was about  $793.7 million’’.

He had identified  sources in which  insecurity leads to  loss of revenue in the nation’s maritime sector  ‘’as ransom payment , re-routing  of cargoes, security equipment, losses to oil thieves, fishing Industry  and cost of security escort of cargo vessels hired by shipping Companies  to forestall Pirates attack.

Studies was said to have also identified the following factors as the drivers of maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea region, particular. They include an increase in ship traffic in the region as a result of globalization, the debilitating Leadership of many of the states in the region.

Note that the proliferation of small arms, poor monitoring  and control of the oceans and criminality was said to have  further aggravated  by the situation , including visible  youth unemployment, high level  of poverty and economic  hardship.The NIMASA helmsman, who could not hide his feelings  opined that ‘’the impacts  of these challenges  are far-reaching and require all  concerned   stakeholders to Collaborate to tackle this menace’’, which many believed have grown wings.

Also drawing  examples  from other climes  like the Regional  Cooperation  Agreement  on Combating Piracy  and armed robbery against ships  in Asia, RECAAP, , the NIMASA, boss,  showed  that stakeholders  Collaboration  has been used to tackle maritime insecurity in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea. He was said to  have cited  the five clusters of Nigerian maritime  collaboration  as the   Armed Forces/National Security Group,(Army, Navy Air Force, ) , Nigerian Agency For Food and Drug Administration, NAFDAC, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, under the close watch f Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel, Nigerian Police Force, NPF, Nigerian Immigration service, NIMS and the Nigerian Drug Law Enforcement Agency, including  the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation , NNPC and the Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR.

 It was also said to be  Collaborating in its anti-piracy operations through sharing of information with National Environmental Standards and Regulatory Enforcement Agency, NESREA,  National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency, NOSDRA, Nigerian Inland Water Ways Authority, NIWA as well as the Disaster  Management Agencies, NEMA.

He may have won the heart of the Participants at the CONSAC, when he listed some of the Collaborative efforts by the agency to address   the nation’s maritime insecurity over the last one year which have yielded results. This include  the implementation of   the Deep Blue Project, in which HLS Systems and Technologies Limited,  the Israeli firm that had won the $195 million contract for supply of  the security assets had delivered to the agency, 17 Interceptor Boats, 16 Armoured vessels, for Patrol of coastal areas, two Special Mission Vessels, SMV. Two Special Mission aircrafts, SMA, for Search and Rescue Operations,   three Special Helicopters and four unmanned Aerial vehicles.

NIMASA Deep Blue SMA, Managed By NAF, As part of Their Collaborative Efforts

Indeed, the supply of the maritime security assets to NIMASA, according to informed sources have improved the Collaborative efforts of the agency and the Nigeria Air Force and The Nigeria Navy as it has brought the trios of Jamoh, Isiaka Oladayo Amao, an Air Marshall, Chief of Staff, Nigerian Air Force and Awwal Zubairu Gambo, a Vice Admiral and the Chief of Naval Staff, into a closer working relationship. While the Nigerian Navy which is managing the sea assets of the Deep Blue Project had trained 30 officers, the NAF, had trained 43 officers to man the air security assets. Prior to the involvement of the the Nigeria  Navy and the Nigerian  Air force on the Deep Blue Project, NIMASA and had been Collaborating in tackling the Pirates and sea thieves.

The deployment of the maritime assets appear to have become a nightmare to the Pirates and sea thieves as many of them who could no longer bear the heat have relocated to other countries in  the West and Central African sub-regions, particular, Ghana and Gabon, to practice their nefarious trade.

Another of such Collaborative efforts was the enactment of the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences, SPOMO, Act, 2019. This is in addition to Community Agreements and  the strengthening of the Navies  of the Gulf of Guinea region, Collaboration with  the CEOs  of Maritime Organisations , tagged, Joint Maritime  Working Group, JMIWG, Engagements with  the  Nigerian Army, Navy, Air force, Marine Police,  Customs, Immigration and the Gulf of Guinea-Maritime Collaboration  Forum/Shard  Awareness and Deconfliction (GoG- MCF/SHADE).

 It is instructive to note that the Federal ministry of Transportation, agency, may not have limited its Collaborative efforts to the military and Para-military Institutions in Nigerian but had extended it to the International Maritime Organistation, IMO, INTERPOL,  Regional Organisations, shipping operators, private security companies, Submarine Cable  Operators  and Seafarers Organisations in order to contain  the activities of pirates and sea thieves.

Determined to sustain the tempo of the anti-piracy war in the GoG, particular, Jamoh has called for the deployment   of more resources  for technical  assistance  for capacity building  and expansion of automation  systems for monitoring  the maritime sector in order to  enhance  ‘’ the nation’s capacity for cooperation  against  trans-national maritime crime  and terrorism with potentials to adopt  a more  participatory approach  to maritime insecurity’’.  

This may have informed why he had said that ‘’working together  is the best approach  to defend  our seas, enhance maritime security , promote trade , protect the environment  and guarantee good quality of life of our people’’

MV. HAILUFAN 11, Arrested By The Nigerian Navy And Handed Over To NIMASA IN 2020

. Between 2016 and now, the Nigerian Navy Patrol Teams have arrested Vessels and Pirates at different times and handed over to NIMASA for prosecution. Take for instance, in May 15, 2020, barely three months in  office, Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas, a Vice Admiral, and the then CNS, had handed over ten Pirates  who were arrested for  attacking a Chinese  vessel, MV HAILUFANG 11, off the coast of Coted’Ivoiore and directed it towards Nigeria waters for prosecution  .   Last June, the Navy had arrested MV Soteria, for defaulting her Automatic Identification System, AIS, and handed over NIMASA, for necessary action.

Maritime analysts believe that the Naval Authorities both past and present could not have handed over the arrested Pirates or vessels to NIMAS,if there was no collaboration.it is not surprising why Jamoh,  the Kaduna state born  NIMASA Director General has been harping on the need for Collaboration  among the maritime stakeholders to tackle  Piracy and sea thieves in Nigerian waters.  

  Vice Amiral Gambo, the Chief of Naval Staff, may have taken advantage of the CONSAC in Kano, to honour the NIMASA Director General,’’ for promoting civil-military cohesion’’.  

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Stephen Ubanna

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