Mr. Ziakede Akpobolokemi, DG, NIMASA
Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Ziakede Akpobolokemi, has expressed worry over the frequent release of those arrested in connection with their alleged involvement in piracy in Nigerian territorial waters.
Akpobolokemi, who has vigorously pursued the campaign against piracy in Nigerian waters since he was appointed the DG of the agency about two years ago, said the frequent sudden release of those arrested in connection with their alleged involvement in piracy in Nigerian waters has negatively impacted on the anti-piracy campaign of the agency.
He stated this at Maritime House, the corporate headquarters of NIMASA in Lagos, when he played host to members of the Senate Committee on Marine Transport, led by their Chairman, Senator Zanab Kure.
Members of the committee were in NIMASA to find out how the agency has been discharging its mandate as enshrined in the NIMASA Act 2007. The committee was in the agency as part its oversight functions in NIMASA.
His statement was contained in a report he presented to members of the committee. His words: “The continuous release of suspected pirates is frustrating our fight against pirate attack on vessels. Each time these suspects are arrested and hand over to the prosecuting agencies no sooner than later, they are released from detention. Some suspected pirates have been arrested more than twice thereby making nonsense of the agency's moves to reduce or eliminate the menace of pirates on the nation's waters”.
According to the helmsman, NIMASA can only make arrest and hand over to the Police or State Security Service or any other prosecuting agency. He however urged the Committee to assist the agency in talking to other sister agencies involved in the prosecution of suspects so as stamp out piracy from Nigeria and the West African coast.
Adding his voice to the frustration of the agency, the Commander in charge of the NIMASA's Maritime Guard Command (MGC), Navy Captain Promise Dappa, said one of the arrested suspects, Mr. Nicholas Okotie, has been nabbed before by the SSS for a similar offence.
Kure assured the agency of the committee support in combating the menace of piracy, even as she reiterated the readiness of the committee to summon the Inspector General of Police to explain the frequent release of persons arrested for their alleged involvement in piracy. He hailed the agency for its strategy in tackling the menace of piracy in Nigerian waters.