Lagos — The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has said that it has formed a working group with the International Maritime Organization, IMO, Baltic and International Maritime Council, BIMCO, the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners, INTERTANKO, and other international shipping bodies around the world to tackle the menace of pirates in the Gulf of Guinea.
This came as the agency, in collaboration with the Nigerian Navy, effected the arrest of a total of 27 pirates in the last three months.
Speaking in Lagos, to mark his 100 days in office, Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, said that Nigeria is no longer asleep in its fight against piracy as it has also trained about 156 marine personnel to tackle the menace of piracy.
The trained personnel, according to him, were drawn from NIMASA, Nigerian Ports Authority, the Nigerian Navy, the Nigerian Police and some from the judiciary whose responsibility is to prosecute the culprits.
Jamoh also stated that all government institutions with maritime security architecture are working towards harmonizing these arrangements with a view to having a well-coordinated system in giving the sea criminals a good fight.
On the security working group, Jamoh said that there were lots of recommendations from the last Global Maritime Security Conference, explaining, however, that the current working group is not the one initiated at the end the Global Maritime Security Conference held in Abuja two years ago.
He stated: “This particular working group was initiated by some conglomerate groups like BIMCO, INTERTANKO and others but with the support of the IMO. That is where we are and we agreed that every month, a meeting will be held to review the situation on the Gulf of Guinea and update ourselves on issues within the maritime industry, and this has been yielding a lot of results.
“Like I said that they are issues of security importance and for that reason I cannot divulge some of the information here but what I can say is that it is a good and viable initiative.
“The working group is being jointly chaired by the international conglomerate group in Europe and by NIMASA in Nigeria.’’
Harping on the multiplicity and duplication of maritime security assets, Jamoh stated: “In NIMASA, we have C4I, the Nigerian Navy has Falcon Eye, the NPA has C3I and because we are all serving the same government, we will try and harmonize and agree that these platforms will try as much as possible and make them inter-face with each other.
“We are currently taking stock of what each institution is having and when we understand the need to work together, we can now cross the Ts and dot the Is for a safer and secure maritime domain.’’
He explained that the NIMASA Search and Rescue Coordinating Center in Kirikiri, Apapa, Lagos, is also in charge of taking care of rescue situation in nine countries along the West African sub-region adding that the rescue center at Takwa Bay is waiting to be equipped with all the necessary gadgets for rescue purpose.
He disclosed that as soon as the lockdown is lifted, the equipment will be moved in and the rescue center will be deployed to work.