SPOMO Act: Nigeria Secures 10 Convictions in 2-years, As Buhari Inaugurates Deep Blue Assets

By DAPO OLAWUNI

The Federal Government has secured ten convictions for various maritime offences since the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Act was signed into law in June 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari said Thursday in Lagos.

The President disclosed this at the official flag-off of the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure in Nigeria also known as the Deep Blue Project at the ENL Terminal, Apapa Port, Lagos.

‘‘I am confident that the project, which provides a robust maritime security architecture, will enhance maritime domain awareness capability and improve law enforcement action, particularly in the prosecution of suspects under the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Act which I signed into law in June 2019.

‘‘This Flag-off is an important step in the continuing shift in strategic action about regional maritime security.

‘‘It will serve as a benchmark for member states in the Gulf of Guinea and other relevant stakeholders to further develop innovative strategies and align efforts with the subsisting framework to improve maritime security in the region,’’ he said.

Calling for greater collaborations among countries in the Gulf of Guinea to secure Nigeria’s waters and beyond, President Buhari noted that the assemblage of the new maritime security assets was coming at a critical time when global discussions are centered on piracy activities and the new dimension it has taken in the region.

‘‘With the world’s waters accounting for over 80% of transportation requirements of the global economy, concerted efforts and innovative actions are required to address attendant security challenges.

‘‘Therefore, the flag-off of the project marks an important milestone in this regard and in our collective effort to tackle security challenges in the form of piracy and other maritime crimes in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea. It is also a demonstration of government’s strong commitment to ensuring security.

‘‘This intervention, no doubt, will facilitate a conducive environment for the maritime sector to thrive and contribute to the diversification of the Nigerian economy,’’ he said.

The President commended the Ministers of Transportation, Defence, the Chief of Naval Staff, the Director-General NIMASA, members of the Steering Committee, the Project Management Team and all other government stakeholders who have worked together to bring this initiative of the administration to fruition.

Assuring of government’s commitment to ensure the project’s sustainability, the President urged all critical stakeholders to work collectively for the greater benefit of all Nigerians, member states of the Gulf of Guinea and the global maritime community.

At the inauguration, the President, who witnessed the demonstration of a range of assets to tackle maritime security, supervised the naming of two Vessels, Deep Blue Abuja (DB-Abuja) and Deep Blue Lagos (DB-Lagos) by the Minister of State, Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki.

Also speaking, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi said the deep blue project was a dream come true, because he faced several opposition’s in the course, including some lites in the system who he alleged have been making money from the insecurity menace.

Amaechi said the facilities comprises of four components – marine assets;aerial assets; land assets and the Command Control Computer Communication intelligence (C4i).

He said they are huge in cost and very sensitive assets which must be properly serviced and maintained.
Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Bashir Jamoh described the deep blue project as “mission accomplished”.

He said the project was aimed at ensuring safer waterways so that businesses can thrive and ultimate boost the national economy.
He applauded President Buhari for signing the Anti-Piracy bill into law, adding that it has convicted about 10 offenders for the first time, under the law.

According to him, NIMASA is working closely with international community to curtail criminality in the nation’s exclusive economic zone.

He said pirate attacks have reduced from mid-February this year, urging the shipping firms to review the war risk insurance to Nigeria.

Secretary-General, IMO, Kitack Lim, appreciated Nigeria’s active engagement to ensure safety of shipping in the Gulf of Guinea.

He assured of IMO’s cooperation to ensure safety on the waters.
The development, he said reflects Nigeria’s commitment to lead the fight against insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea and inland waters.

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