Mr. Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi, DG, NIMASA
Most alarms on piracy in Nigerian territorial waters are not true but political, the Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi has asserted.
Akpobolokemi’s statement is coming on the heels of reported heavy attack by sea pirates who on daily basis invade Nigeria’s territorial waters to hijack vessels and kidnap crew members onboard, a situation which is causing a major setback in global shipping operations, dwindling of local economy as well as posing threats to the lives of seafarers and crew members on board international sea going vessels.
The NIMASA helmsman, who stated this at a breakfast meeting with stakeholders in the maritime sector of the economy in Lagos, however maintained that the country’s water is safe and free for shipping operations.
Akpobolokemi, who sits atop Nigeria’s apex maritime regulatory authority, said piracy information making round most of the times, were not only false but sometimes fabricated to satisfy the whims and caprices of those peddling them. He noted such selfish agenda are achieved by raising alarm to attract global body.
His words: “If you do not raise alarm, you cannot do that. So, you have to raise alarms. They have to raise alarm that there is a piracy attack to satisfy their selfish motives. And in most of the reported cases, we have found out that they were non-existing or the vessels said to have been so attacked never reported to us. Or perhaps some may have come to do illegal activities such as oil thief and the rest of them.
“Well, when there is no piracy attack and you say that there is piracy attack, the purpose is that you want to put us at dangerous situation, that our waters are dangerous. That is the only thing you can use as alibi, in increasing your insurance and classifying us (Nigeria) as a war risk zone”, he added.
According to him, “some of these attacks are not reported to the agency and we do not have information about them. We do not have record of their activities on our waters, their International Maritime Organisation (IMO) numbers and so on. So, how will we be held responsible?
“I am saying this because by law, every vessel that is coming into our territory should report to the NIMASA prior to her coming at least seven days notice before coming, so that we can keep a tab on you and whatever that happens we should be able to answer questions. The same thing when you come under attack. In a situation where you come secretly to do illegal bunkering and you are attacked, you cannot hold the administration responsible”, the NIMASA boss said.
He expressed the resolve of the agency to sustain the present patrol of the nation’s waters so that the present security situation in the country, especially in the North, is not compounded through the proliferation of small arms and ammunitions.