Maritime Security: FG Declares Secure Anchorage Illegal

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Maritime Security: FG Declares Secure Anchorage Illegal

… to fine vessels which anchor at facility

 

Abiola Seun

Following the controversy that surrounded the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) operated by a private security firm, Ocean Marine Solutions Limited (OMSL), the federal government has waded in and declared the security arrangement illegal.

Speaking yesterday during a maritime security meeting on the deep blue project to secure the nation’s territorial waters against Piracy organised by the Federal Ministry of Transportation in conjunction with parastatals in the maritime industry, the minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi said the facility was declared illegal in 2017 and further patronage must stop immediately.

According to him, any vessel (Local or foreign) that patronises the facility is breaking the law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

He said, “The secure Anchorage Area should stop by yesterday, if it has not stopped. And, I just told the MD that they should write to everybody that the moment you pay, you are breaking the law of the land.”

“In the UK, for instance, did you see anyone they give police protection? They have protected the place and London is under surveillance with everyone protected so, no big man will come with police following him or paying to have police follow him so let us secure the state.”

He stated further that the federal government maritime security contract was in response to outcry by shipping community over the spate of insecurity on the waterways and some of equipment to prosecute and the confront pirates head-on are already in the country.

The minister who said the federal government had approved the maritime security contract since 2016 said the security architecture will flush out criminals on the nation’s territorial water.

He further said no country in the world have private company providing security.

“I like to say what I told the owner of OMSL, believe me, I didn’t know he was the owner, I only know him as my friend, I didn’t know he’s in the maritime sector. I told him one simple thing, Hadiza didn’t take that decision, I did in 2017. I took the decision because I have not seen a country where an individual protects the country! Because that showed there is a failure in the system and if am the minister of Transportation and I allowed that, then I am a failure and why do they appoint me a minister?

“So, what we are saying is that Government must protect both persons and investment and let me tell you, as a former legislator, you can’t impeach a governor for not providing water, light, road and other infrastructure. It’s not impeachable but you can impeach a governor for not providing security for lives and property.”

He stated further, that, the approval for the security of the nations territorial waters had been secured since 2016 but didn’t materialise until 2018 due to some undue influence benefitting from the insecurity.

Giving details about the meeting and decision reached, he said, “The meeting was about security in the maritime sector and you will agree with us that there is an upsurge in insecurity that it is alarming. We remember that in 2016, we secured an approval before the president and the cabinet to introduce a maritime security architecture which is coming to fruition and it is about to be launched.

“The Israelis will provide training and equipment and the rest will be manned by Nigeria security, Navy, Police Airforce, Army, DSS that is the first way to go. We have to make the conversation because the shipping community is getting a bit worried and we don’t want them to take decision that will affect our trade and other investment that have to do with maritime transportation. That’s why we conveyed the meeting.”

Also speaking, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside said some special mission military equipment for the projects are already in the country waiting for deployment as at when due.

Peterside who corroborated the minister said Nigeria is not handling the security of its territorial waters to Israelis but rather to provide training and equipment.

“We are not handing waterways to the Israelis to man but that they are only providing assets and the training and re-training of our armed forces, those who will man asset and the waterways.

“But, in terms of asset, 6 interceptor boats are in the country, the first special mission vehicles came into the country in December last year, the second special mission vehicles will be in the country in February. The first special mission aircraft will be in the country before the end of the first quarter of the year then 6 armoured vehicles are in the country already. The first unmanned vehicles will come in between now and end of February and in terms of helicopter, we expect the first helicopter in the first quarter of this year those are some of the assets we have on ground.”

You know I said the first special mission vessels came in December last year and the second one will come in February anytime from now and in terms of the 6 armoured personnel carriers fitted with Communication gadgets, almost all the communication equipment are in the country already and the first 6 interceptor boats are in the country and the personal gears to kit the dedicated forces are also in the country and the C4I is fully operational in Kirikiri those are some of the assets in the country but, between now and June, 80percent of the assets will be in the  country and will be manned by Nigeria military,” he said.

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