Gulf of Guinea: NIMASA gets boost from IMO, others to fight maritime insecurity

Efforts by Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency to ensure that sanity returns to the country’s waters have received a boost from the International Maritime Organisation as well as global oil and gas players.

NIMASA has given out $195m contract for the securing of the country’s maritime domain, though the contract is yet to be executed two years after.

The agency said key players in the global oil and gas as well as shipping businesses praised the initiative at a maritime security meeting in London chaired by IMO and pledged their support.

NIMASA stated, “Members of the Oil Companies International Marine Forum, International Association of Independent Tanker Owners, International Chamber of Shipping, and International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners committed to a collaboration with the IMO in support of NIMASA’s efforts to enhance security in the Gulf of Guinea.”

The agreement was reached at an IMO-sponsored Maritime Security and Facilitation meeting, which had in attendance officials of the United Nations specialised maritime regulatory agency led by the secretary-general,Kitack Lim; the management of NIMASA led by the director-general, Dakuku Peterside; representatives of OCIMF, INTERTANKO, ICS, INTERCARGO, Baltic and International Maritime Council and president of Chevron, Mark Ross.

Lim, who chaired the meeting, called for stakeholders’ collaboration to overcome the challenges in the Gulf of Guinea.

While acknowledging the efforts of NIMASA to tackle insecurity in the region, the IMO scribe pledged the organisation’s support for Nigeria.

He stated, “We at the IMO are very much interested. It’s gladdening to note that something is being done about the issue of security in the Gulf of Guinea. Something is happening much more than ever before. We want to cruise together. I think we can make a big difference with collaboration from all stakeholders.

“The global maritime security conference in Abuja is also very important. It is a ground-breaking conference to chart a way forward for securing the Gulf of Guinea. IMO will actively participate.”

Peterside informed the meeting that the C4i Centre, which is already in operation, made use of the Automatic Identification System and Synthetic Aperture Radar to identify non-AIS-complying vessels. It also uses coastal radar and External System Integration, including the Nigerian Navy’s Falcon Eye Intelligence and Lloyds List Intelligence, among others.

The NIMASA boss said, “The Nigerian government acknowledged the challenge of security in the region and decided to take more actions to curb criminal activities on our waters. The Deep Blue Project and the hosting of the global security conference are part of efforts to complement ongoing actions of the Nigerian Navy, which is the largest in that region. Seventeen interceptors for the Deep Blue Project will arrive Nigeria later this month. Some of the special mission aircraft will also arrive Nigeria in November, while the four unmanned aerial vessels will arrive Nigeria March 2020. Total deployment of all C4i projects will be by November 2020.”

According to Peterside, Nigerian laws do not allow private armed guards onboard vessels in the country’s territorial waters.

He called for constant engagement on the Deep Blue Project, and more support for the ICC Yaounde to enhance information sharing capacity in the Gulf of Guinea.

Stakeholders at the meeting acknowledged the attempts by the Nigerian government to combat maritime crimes and promised to back those efforts with more assets to fight piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. They also promised to support the hosting of the Global Maritime Security Conference in Abuja.

Peterside added, “Over 80 countries have confirmed participation, 28 navies across the globe have also confirmed participation, with 15 chiefs of naval staff personally leading their delegations to the conference.

“The side event to be hosted by the ICC will have different working groups and agreements at these sub cells presented at plenary during the event.”

Sam Megwa of OCIMF, who had led a team to visit Nigeria this year, also acknowledged the steps by the Nigerian government to curb piracy and maritime crimes.

He urged the agency to put appropriate measures in place to ensure sustainability of the security projects.

Megwa stated, “Our visit to Nigeria was quite inspiring. The most important thing is that Nigeria has acknowledged that there is a challenge and actions are being taken now. NIMASA was open to us, as we saw all equipment for the C4i, among others.

“The agency is doing so much, but emphasis must be placed on sustainability of the project through proper governance. All we want is improved security situation in the Gulf of Guinea.”

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