To consolidate on recent achievements in Nigeria’s territorial waters and the Gulf of Guinea, it has become expedient that provisions in the Best Management Practices (BMP) for reporting incidents of piracy are reviewed with the urgency it deserves.
As the designated agency, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is expected to spearhead action in this regard.
Emmanuel Maiguwa, President, Maritime Security Providers Association of Nigeria (MASPAN), made the call in Lagos during a courtesy call on the NIMASA Director General, Dr Bashir Jamoh.
Justifying his call, Maiguwa referred to the recent incident of the super tanker, MT Heroic IDUN, which sailed into Nigerian waters recently to illegally load crude at the Akpo Oil Field, off the shores of Bonny.
As an alibi to resist arrest by the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Gongola, the vessel claimed that she was attacked by sea pirates and needed to sail to safe place.
Maiguwa said the BMP, as currently constituted, does not give priority in reporting lines to the country of jurisdiction where incidences occur.
“Following the incident of MT Heroic IDUN, it is evident that there is an urgent need for NIMASA to spearhead the review of the provisions of BMP West Africa.
As currently constituted, the document does not give priority in reporting lines to the country of jurisdiction where incidences occur.
“As a result, the vessel gave a false report to the M-DAD GoG before Nigerian authorities could vet the information. Had this incident not involved the Nigerian Navy, it would be difficult to counter the IMB’s report, and a false report would have erased our clean sheet.
Maiguwa said that the most appropriate procedure if the vessel was really ‘under attack’ was to call NIMASA or the Nigerian Navy as first responders before other agencies in line with the standard security protocols enshrined in ISPS Code, in the interest of Nigeria and GoG.
Maiguwa advocated the need for maritime seminars to sensitize key stakeholders on the provisions of the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offenses (SPOMO) Act, something similar to Nigeria Shippers Council’s maritime seminar for judges.
While the programme for the judiciary supports judges in the adjudication of justice in maritime cases, consistently having the same for stakeholders in maritime security will enhance compliance and ease of business as well as provide NIMASA with gaps for future enforcement and review of the Act.
Maiguwa also called on NIMASA to reinstate the Recognised Security Organizations (RSO) regular meeting on a monthly or quarterly basis to enable discussion on issues affecting their operations with NIMASA as the Designated Authority.
On the issue of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activities, the MASPAN President urged NIMASA to develop the fishing vessel monitoring system to collate information necessary to counter IUU in the nation’s waters.
MASPAN, Maiguwa indicated, was prepared to partner with NIMASA and work out a framework to enable full implementation of cabotage trade taxes on her member’s vessels.
“The membership of MASPAN incorporates significant tonnage of ships operating in distinct markets- oil and gas through the IOCs and spot market conventional shipping.
“While the structure to define and enforce the agency’s two percent is more straightforward and easily enforceable in the former, this is not the case in the latter. Therefore, we anticipate a loss of two percent levy for the agency in the absence of a practicable framework
“MASPAN is offering its platform to partner with NIMASA and work out a framework that will enable full implementation of cabotage trade taxes on her members’ vessels to ensure full compliance.”