The Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, has called on the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) to ensure fairness and balance in its reportage of piracy issues on Nigeria's territorial waters.
Peterside regretted what he described as 'exaggeration of reports' on incidences on the country's waterways by the IMB, a specialised department of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), dedicated to fighting maritime crime and malpractice.
He made the assertions Tuesday in Lagos, when a delegation of the International Maritime Security Operations Team (IMSOT) from the United Kingdom paid a working visit to the Agency.
He bemoaned the alleged distortion of facts in the coverage of Nigeria by the Bureau, saying such distortions can do reputational damage to the country within the international community.
He noted that even the slightest crime in the creeks and harbours of Nigeria were often reported as piracy by the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre.
Dakuku said: "Let me use this opportunity to call on the IMB to, please, report Nigeria appropriately and appreciate the efforts we are making to curtail security incidences within our maritime space. Is it in our laws that we are strengthening, is it investment in intelligence, maritime security and safety and also the regional collaboration we have engaged in, among other efforts being made.
"We have made tremendous progress because we are putting a lot of effort, and we are willing and determined to work with anybody who can assist us to ensure that the maritime space in Nigeria is safe and secure for everybody," he said.
Peterside also said the Agency has put mechanisms in place to reduce piracy to the barest minimum. These include investing in satellite surveillance system, which has the capacity to view all vessels on the country's waterways; supporting the security agencies to acquire assets that will enable them fight piracy and other maritime crimes; and proposing an anti-piracy bill that, when it becomes law, will give NIMASA the authority to prosecute maritime related crimes, among others.
In his words, "Maritime security is multi-sectoral, and the need for collaboration cannot be overstated; hence the reason the Agency has continuously embraced collaboration with relevant government agencies and stakeholders with the intent of realising a robust maritime sector in line with best global practices.
"We will continue to accord high priority to the issues of maritime crimes so that we can maximally benefit from the Blue Economy initiative, which is now the focus in the global maritime space," he said.
The IMSOT Team Leader, Leigh Smith, commended NIMASA for its efforts to maintain security on the country's territorial waters and high sea, and urged continuous collaboration in the areas of technology and information-sharing.
Peterside also inaugurated the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code Implementation Committee (ICIC), and charged the committee to ensure there was a remarkable difference in the next one-year through their actions, the rules and regulation set, and collaboration with other stakeholders.