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Monday, 10 December 2012 00:00
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NIMASA working towards entrenching laws to persecute crime on nation’s water ways

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is working towards entrenching a workable legal framework to prosecute crime in the nation’s water ways.

The hint was dropped by the Director –General of NIMASA Mr. Patrick Ziakede Akpobolokemi, at the flag off of the agency’s 4th Strategic Admiralty Law Seminar for Judges at the Oriental Hotel, Lekki Lagos.

According to the NIMASA Boss the bill will soon be submitted before the National Assembly saying, “We are clearly committed to developing the maritime industry and we are continuously developing our in-house capacity.”

Also, the Director- General reiterated the agency’s commitment to fighting sea crimes in the country’s waters stressing that the agency and its counterparts in countries within the Gulf of Guinea were in talks for strategic cooperation over the issue of piracy and other criminal activities at sea in the region.

While thanking the judiciary for its support so far, Mr Akpobolokemi reminded the judges that much more was needed to be done to empower the agency with powers to prosecute pirates and other sea criminals.

Exposing the agency’s legal handicap, the NIMASA DG said, “That we have arrested many pirates, oil thieves and vessels and none of them have been prosecuted and convicted is an indication that we desperately need the judiciary. Criminals here confess without duress and implicate big names and next time they are back again into the crime.”

“When my administration started, not even a Yamaha 45 Engine boat was seen in NIMASA; piracy had assumed a very worrisome dimension and there was no capacity to confront the pirates. The challenges were there, but we took the bull by the horn. We provided five boats and confronted them until they found a new haven in Cotonou.

“Then we had to liaise with the Republic of Benin and I can confidently state that the success in Cotonou is over 90 per cent, to the extent that even the President of the Republic of Benin attested to it. We are now talking on how to come together and cooperate to eliminate the menace in the Gulf countries.”

He stated further that the agency under him has acquired six state-of the-art vessels and that by January, another six motherships would arrive.

Giving the agency assurance of quick response, the NIMASA boss said, “Call us 120 nautical miles we will be there. We have fought the syndicate in piracy; many tank farms and filling stations have been sealed so far. If illegality in our waters is quelled I can tell you that 50 per cent of corruption in the country would have been eliminated.

“We are committed to securing the maritime domain and ridding it of illegal acts. We have been misunderstood in some quarters but we remain resolute,” he guaranteed.

Meanwhile, noting that the four pillars upon which the nation Cabotage Law was built were unattainable, he however said much was being done by the agency to ensure that law works. Such efforts he noted were shipyard being built by NIMASA and the Cabotage financing fund.

He said, “If we build our maritime well, thousands of jobs will be created. We need social and economic initiatives to solve our security problems rather than use of police and the military. The maritime sector is capable of doing much more for this country and its people.”

Speaking on the agency’s initiative in maritime capacity development for Nigerians, he said, “Over 1000 citizens are leaving Nigeria for maritime education in various parts of the world, with NIMASA sponsoring them 100 per cent. Instead of keeping our monies in the bank idling, we are investing them in capacity development and now over 600 young people are leaving for oversea trainings in maritime by next month.

“We have as well chosen four universities here in Nigeria for maritime training and NIMASA is sponsoring them. We are making efforts at building a maritime university to be commissioned in the next few years.”