*as Belgium seeks backing for IMO slot
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said that 65 to 75 per cent of crimes in Nigeria are perpetrated through waterways, adding that the country would make much progress if the trend was checked.
Amaechi made this known in a statement by the Director of Press and Public Relations in the ministry, Anastasia Ogbonna, after the Belgian Ambassador to Nigeria paid him a courtesy call on Tuesday in Abuja.
He also announced that the maritime project to secure the Gulf of Guinea would be launched in Lagos in June by President Muhammadu Buhari.
His words, “If it (security project) is successful, in the near future, there will be improvement in maritime security, then other countries in the Gulf of Guinea can adopt it.
“Indeed, 75% or 65% of crime comes from our water(ways) and if we are able to eliminate it, then we will be making a lot of progress.”
The minister also lamented over the “crisis” in the maritime sector, saying “it is more complex that the world knows.”
Illegal bunkering is a major concern, amid issues of sea piracy; while hostage takers and petty criminals sometimes use waterways for their getaway.
Amaechi, however, said the Federal Government has come up with a solution which it would soon kick start, adding that “the navy, police, army and State Security Service are involved.”
“If you are in the air, you see what is happening in the water; you are inside the water, you will be able to respond; the helicopter has the capacity to drop in Naval men when they see anything suspicious,” he said.
The Belgian Ambassador to Nigeria, Daniel Bertrand, meanwhile, presented a letter to the minister requesting the Nigerian government’s support for Belgium’s candidature at the International Maritime Organisation.
The envoy said his country had observed with keen interest what was happening in the Gulf of Guinea and would like to be of assistance, and give support to the implementation of maritime security in the area.
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