NIMASA accuses oil companies of  conniving with sea pirates … as Jamoh sets target to return Nigeria to IMO White List and Category C

Abiola Seun and Peter Olaniyi


The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has said that International Oil Companies (IOCs’) are fuelling sea pirates on the nation’s water.

Speaking in Lagos over the weekend while giving details of his 100 days in office, the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh, said he set a one year target to return Nigeria back to the exclusive White List of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

The NIMASA boss revealed that he currently has information on a suspected pirate who works with Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO).

The White List is a list of countries assessed by the International Maritime Organization as properly implementing the STCW-95 (Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) convention.

According to the NIMASA DG, “There are two Key Performance Indicators (KPIs’) that we have set for ourselves, Firstly, Nigeria has to be back on the White List of the IMO.

“This is a target that I have set for myself in my four years as DG NIMASA. Hopefully, by the end of next year, I will like to see Nigeria back on the IMO White List. This is our number one target in NIMASA.”

“Our second target has to do with the IMO Category C seat. We can only be relevant in the committee of maritime nations if we have seat in the IMO Council. By November next year, Nigeria has to be back on the IMO Category C seat.

“Nigeria has given me four years to actualize these things, but I have set for myself November next year to ensure these things are actualized.”

On the recently arrested maritime pirates, the NIMASA DG stated that by next week, the arrested pirates will be arraigned. In his words, “This is a test case for the workability of the Anti-Piracy law. The international community is currently focused on us to see what we will do with the arrested pirates, whether we will let them go scot free.
“This is the concern of the international community now, and we will make sure we don’t disappoint.”
“Recently in January this year, one of our informants showed me a picture of a suspected well known pirate who currently works with Shell. He told me that if we can arrest the suspected pirate, we will get much information from him regarding maritime insecurity.”
“Even last week, a Naval officer gave me the name of a person that ought to be arrested. That if we arrest that person, we will get a lot of information and intelligence on maritime insecurity in our waters from him. What we are doing now is investing so much on intelligence gathering. It was through intelligence gathering that we were able to arrest the maritime pirates that were paraded recently.”

The Federal Ministry of Transportation is also putting final touches to arrangements for the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), he revealed, stressing that operators in the maritime industry would soon begin to access the fund.

He said fighting crime with intelligence and technology had been the hallmark of his administration in the battle against piracy since it came on board three months ago.
Members of the Fourth Estate, who were at the briefings, pledged their full support for the Agency’s efforts to get rid of the pernicious obstacles to safe and secure navigation in the country’s waters.
Jamoh, who launched a three-point agenda focused on Maritime Safety, Maritime Security, and Shipping Development, with the acronym 3s, on assumption of office, stated, “Collapsing our agenda into security, safety and shipping development has given us a bird’s-eye view of the challenges inherent in our sector. Our strategy of nipping piracy in the bud is yielding positive fruit and that is why the Navy and the Police have arrested a total of 27 suspected pirates in the last two months.”
He added, “Our findings have revealed that these criminals work with the cooperation of international allies and that is what makes them sophisticated. We have set out to tackle them through intelligence gathering and collaboration with relevant stakeholders. Our recent arrests have shown the international community that we are not handling illegalities in our waters with kid gloves.”
He expressed delight in the changing international opinion on safety and security in Nigerian waters, as seen in a recent congratulatory letter by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO} to Nigeria for its zeal to make the country’s waters safe and secure.
On the question of incentives for the maritime sector, Jamoh stated, “We have made proposals to President Muhammadu Buhari through the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rt. Honourable Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, for approval to grant different kinds of incentives that would help us grow the industry. We are also working to ensure the disbursement of the CVFF. We believe that other sectors, like manufacturing and aviation, have leveraged on this sort of incentive to grow and that is the reason we are also looking in that direction.”
Jamoh also spoke on the Nigerian Seafarers Development Programme (NSDP), saying it is being redesigned to make it more effective.
He appealed to the media to ensure adequate and fair reportage of the activities of NIMASA, Nigeria’s maritime industry regulatory agency, in order to properly inform and educate the public. He said the sector had the potential to exponentially grow the Nigerian economy, given the enormous flora and fauna in the maritime environment, besides mineral resources and shipping activities.
Speaking during the engagements, President, Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mustapha Isah, said the media was willing to support NIMASA to achieve its mandate. Isah said the success of the Agency was vital to the whole country. He urged his colleagues to give more attention to maritime in their reports.
NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy have recently been getting commendations for their efforts to ensure security in the country’s territorial waters and the Gulf of Guinea.

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