Nigeria Turns On the Heat Against Piracy
Mounts Pressures On Criminals as Arrested Pirates are Charged to Court
With renewed commitment and firm resolve to keep Nigerian waters and indeed the entire Gulf of Guinea, GoG, crime free, the Nigerian Government through the instrumentality of the of its Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act, 2019 and other coordinated efforts has arrested close to 30 pirates within the last three months.
The arrests are results of collaborative efforts between the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Nigerian Navy and other Security agencies in Nigeria.
The SPOMO Act makes Nigeria the first country in the West and Central Africa region to have a standalone antipiracy law to fight the piracy scourge. Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, said the Agency was mounting a a very strong campaign to eliminate piracy and armed robbery from Nigerian waters to make them safer for navigation.
According to Jamoh, the multiple arrests of suspected pirates in the second quarter of the year, attest to the concerted efforts by NIMASA as it launches a three-point agenda focused on Maritime Safety, Maritime Security and Shipping Development.
With the acronym 3s, on assumption of office, Jamoh stated, “Collapsing our agenda into security, safety and shipping development has given us a bird’s-eye view of the challenges inherent in our sector. Our strategy of nipping piracy in the bud is yielding positive fruit and that is why the Navy and the Police have arrested a total of 27 suspected pirates in the last two months.”
Following the intensified onslaught, Jamoh disclosed that information has been unearthed on the operations of pirates and other criminal elements along the Gulf of Guinea.
In his words, “Our findings have revealed that these criminals work with the cooperation of international allies and that is what makes them sophisticated. We have set out to tackle them through intelligence gathering and collaboration with relevant stakeholders. Our recent arrests have shown the international community that we are not handling illegalities in our waters with kid gloves.”
He expressed delight in the changing international opinion on safety and security in Nigerian as seen in a recent congratulatory letter sent to NIMASA by the International Maritime Organization (IMO} for its zeal to make the country’s waters safer for ships and crew.
Aside Safety and Security issues Jamoh emphasized that all no operational area will be neglected as steps have been taken to get government’s approval for incentive to support maritime operators to grow their businesses.
“We have made proposals to President Muhammadu Buhari through the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rt. Honourable Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, for approval to grant different kinds of incentives that would help us grow the industry”.
“We are also working to ensure the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund, CVFF. We believe that other sectors, like manufacturing and aviation have leveraged on this sort of incentive to grow and that is the reason we are also looking in that direction for our sector” Jamoh said.
The NIMASA boss stressed that the sector has the potential to exponentially grow the Nigerian economy, given the enormous Biodiversity, flora and fauna in the maritime environment, besides the mineral resources and shipping activities.
Already, NIMASA has deployed its Floating Dock for Trainings and commercial purposes under a Private Public Sector Partnership, PPP arrangement to close the identified gap in trainings, docking/ship repairs.
With improved synergy between NIMASA and Security Agencies to tackle Piracy, attracting funding for shipping businesses and attention to trainings and maritime development, stakeholders are optimistic that overall marked improvements would be recorded in the days to come