Speaking in Lagos recently, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, informed that the Federal Government approved the procurement of three helicopters and twelve fast intervention vessels, to ensure coastal and aerial surveillance and patrol of the Nigerian maritime environment by the Nigerian Navy and NIMASA.
This proves the government’s efforts to tackle the menace of piracy and other illicit crimes on the nation’s territorial waterways, as he assured Nigerians and the international maritime community.
He also noted that inter agency and regional cooperation through bilateral agreements among others, as well as effective maritime domain awareness and strong maritime legislation, to criminalise and punish piracy, is fundamental in addressing the challenges.
Specifically, he said: “While acknowledging the fact that piracy is a global problem which is not peculiar to one continent or country, the need for a concerted and coordinated approach in tackling the menace cannot be overstated”.
According to NIMASA, Mr Peterside equally debunked recent reports that piracy was on the increase in the Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea, noting that it is sad that some section of the media are manipulating statistics to the contrary. The truth he pointed out is that the reverse is the case as piracy has been reduced to the barest minimum.
Speaking further, Dr. Dakuku said in recognition of the aforementioned, the governments of the West and Central African Countries including Nigeria at the regional level, subscribed to the Continental Maritime Charter on maritime security, safety and development in Africa, in Lome, Togo on the 15th of October, 2016, to strengthen inter-Agency and transnational coordination and cooperation among member countries in the area of maritime domain awareness, fight against all forms of maritime crimes, prevention and control of pollution of the seas and to promote economic growth of the continent of Africa.
“In the area of inter agency cooperation, it is expedient to mention that NIMASA recently renewed its Memorandum of Understanding with the Nigerian Navy”, the DG stated.
The Director, Legal Services of NIMASA Mr. Abdulsalam Suleiman also speaking, noted that the Agency is presently working with the Federal Ministry of Justice to finalise the Bill and has the assurances of the National Assembly of the expeditious passage of the Bill into law within the shortest possible time to strengthen the Country’s Anti piracy crusade.
“It is pertinent to draw attention to the fact that some of the interventions highlighted above are already yielding positive results and have been duly noted by the international community. Worthy of mention, is the just concluded Legal Committee meeting (LEG 104) of the IMO held in London from the 26th to 28th April 2017, where the issue of piracy around the globe was discussed and the Gulf of Guinea and Nigeria were not mentioned as one of the high risk areas”.
In order to bolster its anti piracy efforts, Nigeria has prepared a draft Anti-Piracy Bill, to give effect to the relevant provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982 and the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts at Sea, 1988 and it’s Protocol of 2005 to punish and deter piracy and other maritime crimes.
As part of efforts by the Federal Government of Nigeria in demonstrating its commitment to fighting piracy and other maritime crimes, the sum of One Hundred and Eighty Six Million Dollars ($186, 000, 000. 00) was recently approved for maritime security infrastructure.