The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has introduced new measures to check security threats in the Nigerian maritime domain and deter persons who may seek illegal means of entry into the country as stowaways.
Under the new procedures, all Ship Captains are to submit the Security-Related Pre-Arrival Information forms to the Agency no later than 48 hours before the ship’s arrival at any Nigerian port.
Ship Captains are also required to exchange the Declaration of Security, with the Port Facility Security Officer of their next port of call not later than 72 hours before the ship’s arrival at that port for conveyance to NIMASA within 48 hours. Additionally, all ships are to maintain 24 hours vigilance and surveillance to detect strange movements, including small boats and skiffs that may not be captured by radar.
Other measures include proper pre-departure search and completion of pre-departure forms before departure from any port; switching on Automatic Identification Systems; close monitoring of communication channels; and response to any VHF call from the Nigerian Navy or the Regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre.
Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, said that the measures are consistent with the strategy of trying to keep one step ahead of the pirates, armed robbers, and anyone or anything that poses a danger to the country’s maritime domain and Nigeria, in general.
“The procedures are easy to follow and deliberate steps have been taken to make the reporting process seamless, all for the good of the ship operators and the international shipping community.″
Jamoh also appealed for standardization of the legal frameworks of countries in the Gulf of Guinea to aid effective prosecution of maritime crimes. He acknowledged that some efforts are being made to standardize regional maritime law enforcement, with some countries are already enacting their own antipiracy laws.
“We encourage countries within the region, which do not have distinct antipiracy laws, to try to enact such laws. It is in the interest of every country in the Gulf of Guinea to consciously work to remove obstacles to the prosecution of piracy and sea robbery suspects,” Jamoh said. “Shipping is an international business, and crimes associated with it are equally international in nature. Now, how do you try a suspect in a country where our SPOMO [Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offenses] Act cannot be applied?
“No country can fight maritime insecurity alone. It is a collective responsibility. There is hardly any nation that does not have commercial interest in the Gulf of Guinea.So we must work to ensure uniformity of legal frameworks in the region to facilitate effective prosecution of maritime crimes.”