Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dakuku Peterside, has said that the agency is determined to run pirates and other bandits operating on the nation's territorial waters out of business.
While noting that so far the rate of piracy has reduced, Peterside however, assured that the trend will continue as the agency was moving to introduce new measures to tackle all forms of maritime crime.
Speaking to executive members of the League of Maritime Editors and Publishers who met with him in his office, the NIMASA DG said the agency was being repositioned to play a new part in line with global best practices.
Peterside, who explained that the agency was dealing with an international audience was of the view that this requires that the standard has to be international as nobody will assess the country with Nigerian standard.
According to him, part of this new measure is a big fight against piracy and other maritime crime.
He pointed out that the fight against maritime crime was collective, including the Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and every other stakeholder in the industry.
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With this measure, he assured that the industry will continue to experience a drop in maritime crime.
He said, "the fight against piracy is a collective effort of all working in the sector, Nigerian Navy, NPA and every other stakeholder in the industry.
"Going forward, we will experience more drop in cases of piracy and maritime crime. I have always said it, we will do everything to tackle the albatross hanging around our neck called piracy. We have put in place a number of things to check piracy and other maritime crimes.
"Number one is that in the next few days the House of Representatives will pass the Anti-piracy bill. It has gone through second reading, the House has gone through it clause by clause and what is left is the final reading. It is to be passed for concurrence by the Senate, and I think we have made remarkable progress in that regard. When the Bill is passed into law, it will give us the legal teeth to fight maritime crime and piracy".
The NIMASA DG said that the agency has been misrepresented on the deep blue sea project, which according to him "involves the acquisition of critical maritime assets, boats, intervention aircraft, helicopters, command and control centre and other assets including the training of special forces to tackle maritime crime".
While noting that a lot of progress has been made, he added that the assets will soon start coming in and will be on the waters with a large footprint on Nigeria's territorial waters.
"The pirates cannot be accommodated. We made it clear that by our presence, we will have zero tolerance on pirates and other criminals within our territorial waters.
"We are collaborating with Nigerian Navy to carry out a number of special operations, including getting support from the US Navy. We have enhanced our surveillance systems. We have a better view of what is happening in our maritime so that we can intervene and respond within short notice. Recently, we rescued a seafarer who was attacked at the coast of Bonny and within a short notice we were able to intervene and he was evacuated with our helicopters", the DG said.
President of the League, Mr Kingsley Anaroke had in his speech commended the management of NIMASA for a number of reforms being introduced by the agency.
Anaroke said the new executive of the League was ready to collaborate with NIMASA in its various measures lined up to give the maritime industry an international status that can compete with other global standards.