and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has in the past explored various options for tackling the menace of crimes at sea. One of the options is interagency collaboration, and this has enabled it to join forces with the Nigeria Navy (NN) by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This MoU led to the formation of the Maritime Guard Command (MGC) that is domiciled at the NIMASA Resources Centre in Kirikiri, Lagos.
Though the agency under this MoU has not succeeded in totally eradicating the menace, it has made significant number of arrests of suspected oil thieves and illegal bunkerers. This has also helped in reducing the level of piracy in Nigeria’s territorial waters as several suspected pirates have been arrested while some were shot dead along the line.To further consolidate on the dividend of inter-agency efforts in addressing crimes at sea, the agency, last week, at the Defence Headquarters in Abuja signed another MoU with the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) under the leadership of Alex Badeh, chief of air staff. The MoU affords both agencies the opportunity to address the issues of sea robbery and oil theft that have been taking toll on the nation’s economy using constant aerial surveillance of the entire maritime domain.
During the signing of the MoU, Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi, director general of NIMASA, said the MoU will enable NIMASA to make use of the facilities owned by the Nigerian Air Force without having to waste resources in buying new equipment like aircraft for aerial surveillance. Here, NIMASA is required to provide NAF with the necessary logistic support to carry out search and rescue as well as aerial surveillance.Also, NAF is expected to deploy aircraft such as NAL; LU8; APR42 that is capable of carrying out live report of all coverage; five ground stations and two Unmanned Area Vehicles (UAVs) inherited from the Presidential Implementation Committee on Maritime Safety and Security (PICOMSS).
NAF will further help in carrying out search and rescue in collaboration with already existing waterways patrol by the maritime guard. This support, the NIMASA boss assured, will help to bring down crime in the maritime domain to a very low rate or even eliminate it.“We want to ensure that through continuous air surveillance the issue of oil theft and piracy in Nigeria will be a thing of history,” said the NIMASA boss.On his part, Alex Badeh, air marshal and chief of air staff, assured NIMASA of NAF’s unlimited support in protecting the nation’s maritime domain. He added that NAF has the human resource and capability to protect the nation’s waters.
Badeh, who said Nigeria cannot continue to allow criminals to rob her of her resources, said that both agencies must work together to protect the nation’s coastal assets. “We want to ensure that Nigerians benefit maximally from all the natural resources and assets available at the nation’s waters,” he said.The fresh MoU with Nigerian Air Force is an addition to the already existing MoU with the Nigerian Navy, all geared towards protecting the nation’s exclusive economic zones. The highlight of the event was appointment of two desk officers from NIMASA and NAF. They are Warredi Enisuoh, acting director, Shipping Development in NIMASA, and Ahmed Bakare, group captain.Previously, the agency had signed MoU with NAF to tackle piracy in Nigeria’s territorial waters under the then leadership of the pioneer director-general of NIMASA, Mfon Usoro, but the MoU was not implemented due to policy inconsistency. Analysts are optimistic that the current MoU, if properly implemented, will help to curb piracy and oil theft in the nation’s waters.
By: Uzoamaka Anagor