By DAPO OLAWUNI
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is excited over the Supression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act spearheaded by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) which was passed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.
The IMO has also commended the progress with the NIMASA Deep Blue Project, saying that this has sent a strong and valuable message to the international community with respect to the efforts Nigeria is making to curb piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Gulf of Guinea.
In a letter dated 3rd June 2020, sighted by DAILY TREND NEWS, IMO acknowledged NIMASA’s efforts in suppressing piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, especially with the recent arrest of 10 pirates on a Chinese vessel, MV HAILUFANG II hijacked off the coast of Côte d’Ivoire in May 2020.
The letter signed by IMO Secretary General, Kitack Lim, addressed to NIMASA Director General, Bashir Yusuf Jamoh acknowledged efforts taken by Nigeria to address maritime security threats in the region, even as he commended the NIMASA boss for his leadership prowess and for proactive response.
Mr Lim said in the letter that “It was a pleasure to meet you again virtually on 21 May 2020 in your new capacity at the helm of NIMASA. Thank you once again for the update provided on the efforts taken by Nigeria to address maritime security threats in the region. 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 II, and more recently on the rescue of the crew members 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”
“I look forward to continuing to work with you and NIMASA on this important priority and remain available to discuss any further progress and development in the region” he said
DAILY TREND NEWS recalls that 10 arrested pirates had on May 15 attacked and boarded a Chinese vessel, MV HAILUFANG II, off the coast of Côte d’Ivoire and directed it towards Nigerian waters. They were arrested by the Nigerian Navy, which dispatched a ship to intercept the vessel after it got an alert
The prosecution of the pirates would be the first trial of bandits arrested in international waters under the implementation of the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act signed into law in June 2019 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The law made Nigeria the first in West and Central Africa to have a distinct antipiracy legislation.
Jamoh had attributed the successful operation that led to the arrest of the pirates and rescue of the ship and its crew to collaboration between NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy.
“We have just witnessed the handover of pirates. This is as a result of the robust collaboration between NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy. There has been a lot of synergy between NIMASA and the Navy with regard to the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act,” Jamoh said.
Also in April 2020, Nigerian Special Forces had boarded a Portuguese-flagged containership, Tommi Ritscher and rescued 11 crew members from the citadel after the vessel was attacked by pirates.
The vessel was attacked while she was within the Cotonou anchorage area, West Africa.