…Says There is Increase in Attack At Anchorage
…Gives Reasons Why Foreign Navies Dominate Gulf of Guinea
By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Bashir Jamoh has said that the Deep Blue Project has not been fully operational because of the misconceptions among the operators of the Deep Blue Assets.
The Deep Blue Project was launched in Lagos by President Muhammadu Buhari in June 2020 amidst fanfare and high expectations from maritime stakeholders.
Speaking at an enlarged press briefing in Lagos at the weekend, Dr Bashir Jamoh said that not all the assets have been received, but those that have been received were already deployed.
The NIMASA boss however lamented that lack of a well spelt out organogram, stating who does what, has hindered implementation of the deep blue assets.
“We have deployed the assets of the Deep Blue Project that we have received, what we are trying to do now is to develop an organogram, there are some misconceptions among the operators of the Deep Blue Assets.
“While some believe that it is special intervention by the Federal government, some believe the assets is going to be mounted by some specialists.
“By the instructions and directive of Mr President, the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Transportation are the Co-chair of the steering Committee, the steering Committee are now at the verge of developing an organogram to state the role of each parties in terms of operating the deep blue assets.
“The deep blue assets have been deployed, however it is not fully operational due to the operational challenges of who does what, as soon as we come out with an organogram and state out the responsibility of each stakeholder, we would have fuller complement of the deep blue assets” Dr Jamoh assured
Dr Jamoh stated that despite the drastic reduction in pirate attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, indications have shown an increase in attacks at the nations anchorage.
DAILY TREND NEWS recalls that a security contract to police the anchorage area; Secure Anchorage Area (SAA Contract) operated by Messrs Ocean Marine Limited (OML) was terminated last year by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The NIMASA boss however assured that the agency has met with the Inspector General of Nigerian Police to fashion out how to tackle the menace of attacks at anchorage.
He said “We just concluded dialogue with the Inspector General of Police because the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) report of the 3rd quarter of 2021 shows an increase of attack at our anchorage, while there is decrease in the Gulf of Guinea”
“So, we plan to reactivate the marine police department which the IG has appointed an AIG in Lagos to take care of the area”
While reacting to the recent killing of some alleged pirates in the Gulf of Guinea by Danish frigate in 2021, Dr Jamoh said there has been an error in the rules of engagement of some of the foreign navies on the territorial waters of Gulf of Guinea.
As a direct response to the development, he said that the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Defence, Chief of Naval Staff, NIMASA all met and agreed on a common front that Nigeria should take. Afterwards the position of Nigeria was transmitted to the Danish Embassy.
“There are lots of mistakes on the rules of engagement of the foreign navies on the territorial waters of Gulf of Guinea and the issue of International Laws on piracy and misconceptions on who does what.
“All the countries must learn from the mistakes and forge ahead. We are working to correct the mistakes, it involves the international community, it is not for NIMASA alone to seat down and pronounce anything”
While addressing concerns which has mounted from maritime stakeholders about foreign navies hijacking maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, Dr Jamoh doused tensions, saying that there is an existing collaboration with these international communities under the code name; SHADE Gulf of Guinea.
Accprding to him, SHADE GoG was initiated by NIMASA in October 2020 when piracy was at its peak. Nigeria decided to take a leading role in terms of addressing security in the Gulf of Guinea.
After NIMASA’s stance, the international community approached NIMASA and pledged readiness to give the necessary support.
Dr Jamoh said that while this was going on, the International Coordinating Centre (ICC) in Yaounde stood and kicked against Nigeria decision to take lead role in battling piracy.
“At the regional level, there are nine countries, but they were not effective because of lack of funding.
We believe they were not doing much, that is why Nigeria, with our mindset of coming with the deep blue assets decided to take the lead role in ensuring peace and stability.
“Reasons for this is that, whatever happens in the Gulf of Guinea, the accusing fingers is always pointed at us, our integrity is stained, nobody respects us, this was why we failed at IMO elections because whenever we speak, they see us as criminals, the proceeds of kidnappings and attacks are found on Nigerian soil
“We took it upon ourselves to open up to the International communities on our challenges, at the meeting, we called it Joint Industry Working Group, we brought all the major conglomerates; BIMCO, INTERTANKO, and asked IMO to send representatives who monitor our activities, this was what led to SHADE Gulf of Guinea
“This is to allow any of the foreign countries that are ready to shoulder responsibilities in addressing insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea. The fact is that no country in Gulf of Guinea can beat Nigeria in terms of Navy, economy and so on, they don’t have funds to buy platforms. Yet Nigeria is blamed for any attack, we cannot fold our hands.
“This is why we had EU in the security apparatus of the Gulf of Guinea, this was how friends of Gulf Guinea, presence of Denmark, France, Italy, US, and Britain.
“The target is for the navies of these countries to come under a shade, then we divide responsibilities. The Gulf of Guinea is very large, so we had to allow each group take certain area to make sure they man it.
“Maritime insecurity cannot be manned by one single country, we must get support, the Gulf of Guinea waters is huge and large, and we must get helping hands.
“In the bit of implementing, we had the issue with Danish Frigate and this is why the presence of EU and other countries are there.
“The SHADE Gulf of Guinea is being Co-chaired by NIMASA, Nigerian Navy and ICC Yaounde and monitored by IMO. This has attracted commendations from the IMO, Nigeria initiated it and we are doing it” he said