…But declines to substantiate ‘exaggeration’***
The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside tactfully cautioned the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) to stop misrepresenting Nigeria in the area of piracy reporting, stressing the need for fairness and balance.
The Director General was particularly concerned with issues of “exaggeration of reports” on incidences on the country’s waterways by the IMB, a specialised department of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC); even though NIMASA failed to give a single example of such ‘exaggeration’.
“Let me use this opportunity to call on the IMB to, please, report Nigeria appropriately and appreciate the efforts we are making to curtail security incidences within our maritime space. Is it in our laws that we are strengthening, is it investment in intelligence, maritime security and safety and also the regional collaboration we have engaged in, among other efforts being made”, Dakuku highlighted while meeting a delegation of the International Maritime Security Operations Team (IMSOT) from the United Kingdom which paid a working visit to the Agency.
He bemoaned the distortion of facts in the coverage of Nigeria by the bureau, saying such distortions can do reputational damage to the country within the international community.
He observed that even the slightest crimes in the creeks and habours of Nigeria were often reported as piracy by the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre.
“We have made tremendous progress because we are putting a lot of effort and we are willing and determined to work with anybody who can assist us to ensure that the maritime space in Nigeria is safe and secure for everybody”, the DG stated, noting that the Agency had put mechanisms in place to reduce piracy to the barest minimum.
These, he said, include investing in the satellite surveillance system, which has the capacity to view all vessels on the country’s waterways; supporting the security agencies to acquire assets that will enable them fight piracy and other maritime crimes; and proposing an anti-piracy bill that, when it becomes law, will give the Agency the authority to prosecute maritime related crimes, among others.
In his words, “Maritime security is multi-sectoral and the need for collaboration cannot be overstated; hence the reason the Agency has continuously embraced collaboration with relevant government agencies and stakeholders with the intent of realising a robust maritime sector in line with best global practices.
“We will continue to accord high priority to the issues of maritime crimes so that we can maximally benefit from the Blue Economy initiative, which is now the focus in the global maritime space.”
Dr. Dakuku further assured the IMSOT delegate that the Agency was willing to collaborate with them and share ideas where necessary, all on purpose to grow Nigeria’s maritime sector.
In his own remarks, the IMSOT team leader, Leigh Smith, commended NIMASA for its efforts to maintain security on the country’s territorial waters and high sea; and urged continuous collaboration in the areas of technology and information sharing.
“We will work together with NIMASA and also share knowledge together; all with the intent of ensuring security in the global maritime space,” he said.
A major highlight of the visit was the inauguration of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code Implementation Committee (ICIC) by the DG, who also asked the committee to ensure there was a remarkable difference in the next one year, through their actions, the rules and regulation set, and collaboration with other stakeholders.
“I trust that you will give your best to this assignment; it is about the reputation of our country, our sector, our ports, the shipping companies, those who do business with us and our stand in the face of the international community,” the DG said.
The ICIC is a committee chaired by NIMASA, the Designated Authority for the ISPS Code initiative. It is made up of various government agencies, including the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the Nigeria Police, the Department of State Services, Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), Nigerian Customs Service, and the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), among others. They are charged with the responsibility of working out modalities for the implementation of the ISPS Code in Nigeria.