By Chiazo Ogbolu
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO), a specialised agency of the UN responsible for regulating shipping, has extolled Nigeria’s leadership role in the quest for security in the Gulf of Guinea.
Dr Bashir Jamoh, Director- General, Nigerian Maritime Administrative and Safety Agency (NIMASA), in a statement on Sunday said the commendation was the second in about six months.
Jamoh said the letter of commendation was signed on behalf of the IMO Secretary-General, Kitack Lim, by the Director, Maritime Safety Division, Heike Deggim.
He said that the IMO specifically highlighted NIMASA’s contribution to the war against piracy and maritime crimes in the region.
Also included in the letter were facilitation of the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act, 2019, and Initiation of the Deep Blue Project.
These, according to the statement, are proof of the country’s abiding determination to lead the charge against maritime crimes in the region.
Jamoh said he had earlier, in a virtual address to a meeting of the G7++Group of Friends of the Gulf of Guinea (G7++FOGG), expressed Nigeria’s resolve to lead efforts to achieve security in the region.
He said that Nigeria’s strategy against insecurity in the region would be based on home-grown solutions, but also sought international cooperation and technical assistance, particularly as regards maritime security strategy and policy development in line with IMO instruments.
“From the successful enactment of new legislation in the form of the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Act 2019, complete with the forthcoming guidelines, to the initiation and implementation of the C4i Deep Blue Project, Nigeria continues to demonstrate its leadership in the region with regard to maritime domain awareness and the enhancement of maritime security amongst littoral States.
“IMO remains committed to supporting the good work being done by Gulf of Guinea States, such as Nigeria, to improve maritime governance and to enhance maritime security in terms of both current and emerging threats and challenges.
“It is, therefore, imperative that States adopt a strategic approach, in order to ensure effective implementation and compliance,” Jamoh quoted IMO to have said.
“Following the arrest and prosecution of some suspected pirates by Nigeria sometime in June 2020, the Secretary-General said the move sent a `strong and valuable message’ to the international community about Nigeria’s commitment to safety and security in its waters and the Gulf of Guinea.’’
In the appraisal, Lim said of Jamoh, “I commend your leadership and proactive response. 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 11.
“And more recently, on the rescue of the crewmembers of the containership Tommi Ritscher,’’ he said.
Jamoh acknowledged the challenge of piracy and armed robbery in the region.
“Our solution to the insecurity in the GoG must be home-grown, with GoG countries cooperating amongst themselves. Commitment to this cause must become an imperative”.
“I have often maintained that Nigeria is the Gulf of Guinea and the Gulf of Guinea is Nigeria.
“We recognise our strategic leadership position and role in the GoG.
“Which has informed the extent of an integrated system of investment to curb criminality in our waters, ranging from the enactment of designated legislation to development of human capacity and acquirement of critical hardware and platforms,” he said.
Jamoh hailed the call by international stakeholders for multi-stakeholder cooperation to contain piracy, kidnapping and other criminal activities in the Gulf of Guinea.
According to him, Nigeria is working with the IMO to develop a National Maritime Security Strategy.
In support of this, he said, it has started work to form a National Maritime Security Committee consisting of the National Security Adviser, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force, INTERPOL, Marine Police, and other relevant security agencies.