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NIMASA:Team Work Is The Surest Route To The Security Of Nigerian Maritime Domain – Jamoh

By Stephen Ubanna

Between March and now,  Bashir Jamoh, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration  and Safety Agency, NIMASA, had embarked working visits to the Chief Executives of  the various security agencies  of government  seeking for their Cooperation in a bid to secure the nation’s maritime domain.

  The agencies included  the Nigerian Navy, NN, Nigerian Police Force, NPF, Nigerian Customs Service, NCS, and the Nigerian Immigration Service,NIS. The  working visit had already taken him and his entourage to the Naval Headquarters, Force Headquarters, and the  Customs Headquarter, all located at Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.  The visit was said to have given opportunity to the NIMASA Director General to have discussion withok Ekwe Ibas, a Vice Admiral and Chief  of  Naval Staff, CNS, Mohammed Adamu, Inspector General of Police, IGP and Hameed Ali, a retired Army Colonel and Comptroller General , Nigerian Customs Service, NCS.  The latest  to be visited was Mohammed Bandede, the Director General of the Nigeria Immigration Agency, NIS.

The NIMASA, boss may have embarked on the  working  visit to bring the  agencies together to stop the pirates attack on ocean going vessels in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea. In 2018, Ibas, the CNS, had revealed that Nigeria , Camerron, Equatorial Guinea in  the Gulf of Guinea are currently  losing over  $2 billion annually  to pirate attacks on  ocean going vessels. The CAS had said that Nigeria, alone is losing and an additional $370 million  to  illegal  fishing  and poaching  on its Coastal and territorial waters. 

Given the Team Spirit that is  working out  in the agency , which had resulted in the achievements that had been recorded in the agency in the last five  months, the NIMAS, boss believes that it could be extended to the government security agencies  in order to achieve greater result in the nation’s maritime  domain.

Jamoh, DG, NIMASA Early Working Visit to Navaal Headquarters, Abuja, Met Vice Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas, CNS

 Recall  that in each of the visits  to the other government agencies, he  been accompanied  by some members of the Management Team. Take for instance, the recent  visit to the NIS, he was said to have been accompanied by  Victor Ochei, the agency Executive Director,  Maritime Labour and Cabotage service, and the Abuja , Zonal office Coordinator, Zailani Musa Attah.

Appearing at the NIS, office, he had told Babandede, the  NIS, Comptroller General that  ‘’teamwork  was the surest  way to the security of Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea.  He stopped short at telling the Immigration   Comptroller  General that engaging the services of private security Companies to secure the nation’s Anchorage area was not the solution to address criminality in Nigeria waters but the solution lie on the agencies working as a team.

The implication of his message to the CEOs, of the  government agencies was  that  if the agencies could agree to burry their difference and work together as a tam  the pirates  would never have  the opportunity to operate freely in Nigeria waters and the Gulf of Guinea.

The NIMASA boss , was said  to have further  informed  Bandede , the NIS Director General  that  the service was ’’ a key in the implementation of the nation’s Caboage Act, which seeks to  empower Nigerians in the maritime sector to be able to compete with the Foreign shipping Company owners who had dominated the nation’s maritime sector  over the  years by lifting  all the crude oil cargo into the International market.

Jamoh , DG, NIMASA, And Mohammed Adamu, IGP, At Force Headquarters

The NIMASA,  Director General  who could not hide his feelings was  said to have emphatically  told the NIS, boss, ‘’ we need  to interface and synergise to ensure the security of the nation’s waters and the Gulf of Guinea . He may have gladdened the heart of  Bandede, when he repeatedly said that  , ‘’the NIS, is the key  to the success of the country’s  maritime operatives in many ways’’.

He explained   that  many of  the criminal  activities  that had taken  place  in the country waters and the Gulf of Guinea  terminate  on Land .This may have informed why he said that ’’ NIS, is a very key element  in any effort to nip such  criminals activities  on bud’’. The NIMASA Helmsman who could not hide his feelings said the  ‘’ Collaboration with the NIS, remain  very crucial  in the realisation of the objectives of the country  Cabotage Act which was signed  into Law  by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003. He stressed that ‘’such partnership ‘’will go a long way  in reducing  inter-agency conflicts that often arise  from the overlap of responsibilities’’.

Security experts had  told The Magazine  that there are provisions   in the Immigration Law  that empower the agency  ‘’to grant  work permits to expatriates’’, noting ’’some of these expatriates work as seafarers’’, despite that such expatriates are not meant to man  the country’s cabotage vessels, ’’. Given an insider information about the Cabotage Act,  Jamoh , according Philip Kyanet, a Deputy Director and the  agency ,Head of Corporate Communications who had issued a Statement concerning the Director  General  working visit to NIS, had said  that  under the Cabotage regime, expatriates are   not meant to man the Cabotage   vessels except where their expertise   are needed  for such operation.

According to him, there are  services where expatriates  can only be  engaged ‘’after  a waiver  has been granted  by the exclusive permission of  the minister of Transportation.  Perhaps to avoid such conflicts that may arise from such a situation where  an expatriate  seafarer had obtained a work permit from the agency but found  not to be qualified  to Function in that capacity within the Nigerian maritime domain, the NIMASA, boss noted that ‘’this is where the collaboration between Maritime Regulatory agency and NIS , is necessary’’.  He insists  that‘’ the collaboration between the two agencies  will  help to harmonise the  seemingly overlapping laws and forestall unnecessary rancor  among their officers’.

Indeed, the recent  working visit of the NIMASA helmsman to his Counterpart in other agencies including the tNIS,  appear to have started yielding result. This is evident by the eport of Bandede,  the Immigration boss, in his apparent response to Jamoh’s speech  of the readiness of  the agency to partner with NIMASA ‘’to curb the illegal  Immigration and piracy in Nigeria water ways.

Jamoh Working Visit To Customs Headquarters To Discuss Issues Of Inter-agency Collaboration, To Secure Nigerian Maritime Domain

 As a prelude to addressing the problem in Nigeria land borders, he  disclosed that  the NIS , had started  making  use of  the Migration  Information and Data Analysis System, MIDAS, described in security circles  as a comprehensive land  border  management information system,

The facility was said to have been developed  by  the International  Organisation  for Migraton, IOM. Given an inside information about the MIDAS, the  NIS, Comptroller General, had said that ‘’it was designed  with the capability to collect, process, store and alalyse traveler Information, especially the biometrics and profile, in real time for the purpose of identification, verification and authentication of documents’’.

He  may have put smiles on the Face of his NIMASA Director General  when he disclosed that  the MIDAS, had been ‘’installed in 24 locations  across the country’s land borders, airports and seaports. The locations that were said to have been currently   making use of the facility, included   the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Murtala Mohammed Internal Airport, Ikeja, Lagos, Akanu IIbiam International airport, Enugu and Aminu Kano International airport, Kano.

The land borders that were said to have been connected to the MIDAS, are the busy Seme, a border town between Nigeria and the neighbouring Republic of Benin, Idiroko , another border town between Nigeria and Benin and the border locations in the south –south state of Cross river, and the north western states of  Katsina, Jigawa, Kebbi and Zamfara

Many believe that the shipping syndicate operating in Nigeria waters and the Gulf of Guinea  are  in trouble as NIMASA, NCS, NPF  and NIS, officials have agreed to bury their differences to work as a team to achieve result in the security of Nigeria waters and the Gulf of Guinea.

It is no longer of a situation of the Navy and NIMASA ,ding all the work alone to confront the Pirates. The Statement by Ibas , the CNS,  that the Navy  has continuously being fine-tuned  to counter emerging challenges through  maintenance of credible presence  within THE Nigeria waters speaks volume.

Ever since  Jamoh, the NIMASA, Director General, started the sensitisation Campaign to encourage the various  government security agencies to work together as a team, fear, appear to have gripped the Pirates operating in the nation’s waters and the Gulf of  Guinea, as  many of the Pirate groups were said to have gone back to the drawing board to perfect plans to continue in their security threats to the nation’s oil and gas infrastructure  as well as marine resource theft including  other organised crimes.  

There is no gain saying the fact that the nation’s maritime domain  has been under  threat of piracy , sea robbery, illicit drug trafficking, illegal unreported and unregulated  fishing and marine pollution.

Stephen Ubanna

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July 2021

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