NIMASA: Officials Heave A sign Of Relief Over IMB Reports On 30% Drop In Piracy In The GoG

By Stephen Ubanna

 For years Pirates had turned the Gulf of Guinea, GoG, as a haven for their nefarious activities.  The situation wa sso worrisome as Ocean going vessels were regularly attacked. Until the anti-piracy war took the center state at  the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, under the close watch of Dakuku Perterside, about four years ago, Ibok Ekwe-Ibas, a Vice Admiral and Chief Naval Staff and his Officers  in the Eastern and Western Commands had tackled the menace of the pirates headlong in Nigerian waterways.

Security watchers believe that the anti-pirates war, was given a bite with the appointment of Dakuku Peterside, as the Director General, NIMASA, about four years ago. From the onset, the NIMASA Director General, was said to have  declared the agency unwavering commitment  to its leadership role  in the war  on piracy  and other maritime crime in the GoG region, an area widely considered  the global challenging  maritime crime base.

There is no gain saying the fact that GoG countries  including  Nigeria  were facing  serious security challenges that needed global support and Cooperation to tackle the problem.

 Peterside, may have been encouraged to initiate security measures to tackle the piracy in the region because of the huge deposit of Oil and gas in the country which makes it a place of interest for international Oil trading Companies. The country’s geo-strategic location  and  big deltas, believed to be the largest in the world  and the thousands of creeks in the Niger Delta, was a clear indication that it must be policed in order  not to give room to pirates to molest ocean going vessels in the nation’s water ways.

This may have given the determination  to approach  the menace  through  a total  spectrum maritime strategy which involves  law enforcement, capacity building , regional cooperation ,response capability building and enhanced maritime dormain awareness for all agencies of government involved in maritime security. He has vowed to make kidnapping  and other violent crimes in the region a thing of the past.

True to his words, he had  initiated security measures that had put the waterways pirates on the check. This is evident as some of the noticeable violent crimes in the country’s  waterways  have disappeared as most of the pirates have been forced to go underground to avoid falling into the waiting hands of the Maritime regulatory agency Surveillance Officials who are working closely with the Navy.

Security watchers, believe that the pirates may have known that they are in in for trouble with the inauguration of the Integrated  Security  and Water Ways Infrastructure, popular, Deep  Project, by Rotimi Amaechi , a former  governor of Rivers state  and minister of Transportation.

While inaugurating the project last year, the minister had repeatedly made it clear to those that cares to listen  that  the 853 Km long Nigerian Coastline  and the country’s location in the GoG, has made it strategic  for  both maritime  activities and securities to thrive.

 According to him, the Deep Blue Project, is a conscious efforts towards addressing ‘’ illegality  in the country’s territorial  waters  and indeed, the GoG in general.

The Deep Blue Sea project, which many believe is a multi-faceted  involved  the training  of selected  officers  from the various  strata  of the security  services and NIMASA  as well  the acquisition  of assets  to combat maritime crime.

Insiders informed The Value News that the agency under the close watch of the amiable Peterside  has acquired some fast intervention assets , surveillance craft, and other facilities, including  engaging in information sharing  that will aid the country’s  goals of targeted enforcement with member countries in the GoG.   

Dakuku Peterside: DG NIMASA

  Given the enhanced ant-piracy war, The International Maritime Bureau, IMB, had reported a drop in the piracy attacks sea-going vessels  in Nigeria in the third quarter of this year. In its latest report recently released,  the Bureau  gave  Nigeria kudo for putting the necessary security measures in place which had succeeded in reducing the piracy attacks from in the region from  41 in 2018 to a manageable figure of 29 in 2019,”  o, which indicates a 30 percent  drop.

The piracy reporting body also said there was a decrease in global piracy incidents during the first nine months of 2019, compared to the corresponding period in 2018, showing  a five-year drop.

Isechei Osamgbi, a Deputy Director, and the NIMASA, Spokesperson attributed the decline in piracy activities in the GoG and violent  attacks on vessels to the Deep Blue Project, an indication  that the Nigeria’s Integrated Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, have begun to yield results.

  Note that the project is currently being handled by an Israeli firm, Homeland Security International ,HLSI. Going by their mandate, it involves the training of field and technical operatives drawn from the various strata of the security services and NIMASA as well as acquisition of assets to combat maritime crime, such as fast intervention vessels, surveillance aircraft, and other facilities, and establishment of a command and control center for data collection and information sharing to aid targets.

Many believe that the timing of the IMB report, coincides with the conclusion of the Global Maritime Security Conference, GMSC 2019, recently hosted by Nigeria, and coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Transportation and NIMASA, under the theme, “Managing and Securing our Waters.”

‘’With the stated objective of defining the nature and scope of coordinated responses to maritime insecurity in relation to interventions, the conference had enabled global maritime leaders to review the progress made in the fight against maritime crime while charting strategies for the future’’, Osamgbi had said.

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