Lagos — THE Port Facility Security Officers of Nigeria, PFSON, Forum is currently lobbying other port security groups in the ports of neighbouring countries to form a regional Port Security Officers Forum.
Speaking on the development, the Secretary of the Lagos Maritime Security Zone of the Forum, Mr. Ikechukwu Ogunna, said that Nigeria currently has the strongest Port Security mechanism in the entire region adding that other countries are looking up to Nigeria for leadership of the organization when it is established.
Ogunna said that a few meetings concerning the establishment of the regional Forum have been held adding that the last one was held in Cotonou in the Benin Republic, where the Chairman of the Lagos Maritime Security Zone, Dr. Ignatius Uche, was also in attendance.
Speaking on the development, an official of the NIMASA, Mr. Adebayo Olatoke, said that the formation of this regional body is meant to tackle the pirate activities in the region.
He explained that since these countries share common borders, coordinating port security among member states should not pose any problem.
He said: “With the sub-regional Forum of the PFSO, we are making sure the entire region is free from the menace of pirates. We also want to make sure every port and port security officers in the region are on the same page when it comes to port security.”
A statement by the Chairman of the Forum, Dr. Ignatius Uche, said that establishment of a regional Port Facility Security Officers Forum will equally enhance intelligence sharing and reduce the issue of incessant stowaways among other security breaches.
He was of the opinion that a Sub-Regional Conference of the PFSOs should be a good starting point going forward.
Part of the statement reads; ‘‘The PFSO Forum of Nigeria in their July meeting hosted by Port and Cargo Handling Company, renewed their earlier call on the establishment of a Regional Port Facility Security Officers Forum within the ECOWAS sub-region.
‘‘This initiative was part of the Communiqué that was adopted in the International Ships and Port Facility Security Code need assessment report, Conference held some years back at the Genesis Hotel Ikeja, Lagos.
‘‘The body noted that the time to rise to this call is now given the rising security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea, GoG especially the menace of piracy and sea robbery at sea.’’