The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has commended Nigeria’s effort to stem piracy in its waters and the Gulf of Guinea, commending the country for sending a “strong and valuable message” to the global community. IMO also commended the new Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, for his brave and dynamic approach to maritime security, in a letter addressed to him by the Secretary-General, Kitack Lim, amid recent arrests and first-time prosecution of suspected pirates under the country’s new antipiracy law.
The Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act was signed into law in June last year by President Muhammadu Buhari. The law made Nigeria the first in West and Central Africa to have a distinct antipiracy legislation.
Lim said he was impressed by Nigeria’s efforts to address maritime security threats in the region adding that Jamoh’s “leadership and proactive response” to maritime security issues were laudable.
“I would also like to reiterate my congratulations to the Nigerian Navy on the successful capture and arrest of pirates from the fishing trawler Hailufeng II and more recently on the rescue of the crewmembers of the containership Tommi Ritscher.
“Those actions, together with all the other initiatives you highlighted in our meeting, including progress with the deep blue project, send a strong and valuable message to the international community with respect to the considerable efforts your Government is making to curb piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Gulf of Guinea,” the IMO scribe said.
Lim reiterated the organisation’s readiness to assist NIMASA in the training of personnel and in offering technical assistance, and also declared his willingness to talk to other member countries to assist in that respect.
He said IMO would help to deal with the issue of synergy in laws regarding piracy with other neighbouring countries.
Following the arrest of some pirates by the Nigerian Navy and NIMASA, the NIMASA Director General had, in a virtual meeting, informed the IMO Secretary-General that piracy in the region was being sustained by powerful foreign collaboration.
He appealed for support from the international community to complement the steps being taken by Nigeria towards ridding the country’s waters of maritime crimes.
He said, “The recent arrests of pirates have opened our eyes to a new and even more dangerous dimension to the issue of piracy and armed robbery in our waters, and that is the issue of foreign collaboration. The arrests involved Nigerians and other nationalities, whose identities I cannot disclose because the cases are under investigation.
“Piracy is taking an international dimension. We now know that pirates and other maritime criminals in our waters and the Gulf of Guinea operate with strong backing from powerful international collaborators.
“So we earnestly desire the cooperation of the international community, individual countries, organisations, and individuals to stem the ugly tide of insecurity in our waters. We will continue to do our best and update IMO as we make progress with our strategies.”
NIMASA had recently improved its collaboration with the Navy and other stakeholders in an effort to change the ugly narrative of piracy and sea robbery in its maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea.
The new collaborative arrangement involves information sharing between NIMASA’s Command, Control, Communication, Computers, and Intelligence Centre (C4i Centre} of the deep blue project, which commenced operations on a 24-hour basis since last year, and the Nigerian Navy’s Falcon Eye to help track and combat criminal elements in the country’s maritime domain.
On the back of the new partnership between NIMASA and the Navy, the country has made record arrests of pirates, with some already facing prosecution.