Old agreement moribund, says Peterside
Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Navy have set up a joint committee to review the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) guiding the relationship between the two agencies towards safety and security of the nation’s coastlines.
To this end, the review if its comes into force, may terminate the deal between the agency and the Global West Vessels Specialists Limited, allegedly belonging to former Niger Delta war-lord, Mr. Government Akpobolokemi, popularly known as Tompolo.
The Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, stated this yesterday when he led the management of the agency to pay a courtesy visit to the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Adm. Ibok-Ete Ibas, at Naval Headquarters, Abuja.
Peterside said the timeline for the MoU had elapsed and must be reviewed in accordance with the contemporary realities and security challenges.
He insisted that the old agreement was now moribund and commended the Navy for the excellent work at maintaining maritime security across Nigeria’s waterways.
He said: “I want to start by commending the Nigerian Navy for the successes recorded in fighting against insurgency in the North-east and as well as recently in tackling militancy in the Niger Delta. Whenever there is crisis, our military has always risen to the occasion.
“Ours is enormous responsibility and maritime security is both a national and international responsibility to ensure that our waterways are secured. If we want to secure our waterways we want to cooperate with others to enhance the discharge of our responsibilities, first to our nation and international commitment.”
“There is already an existing MoU but that one is as it is, moribund and we need to review it. As you can attest in the media, there seem to be an increase in piracy and other criminalities in our maritime sector.
“Before my assumption of office, NIMASA signed an MuU with the Nigerian Navy, which has an expiry date and that time has elapsed. So a marriage has to be perfected and alliance has to be worked out. The time elapsed that’s what happened to the MoU,” he added.
Speaking further, Peterside said the agency was seeking the necessary local and international collaboration to make sure the issue of piracy becomes history within one year.
He disclosed that they had approached the National Assembly (NASS) for Anti-Piracy Bill to become an act empowering NIMASA for enforcement and prosecution.
“We also think that there should be renewed vigour in the fight against piracy, you may have heard it from the media that we are championing a bill before the national Assembly which is one of the strands of our fight against this piracy. Another one, which is the one we must do together is the military-led patrol. And this is the time to look at it again so that we can deploy all the arsenal at our disposal to ensure that this issue of piracy becomes history in the next few months, at most in the next one year. We appreciate our relationship with the Nigerian Navy and we will all continue to work for the common good of our country.
“As you have heard, we are championing anti-piracy bill. So we need to look at that MoU again because the time has elapsed. We are also maintaining safely for shipping, safety of life and assets on the sea, for promoting indigenous shipping both on our coastal water and on international trade.
“We also have responsibility for enforcing an Act of 2007, and the Cabotage Act.”
Responding, Ibas commended Peterside’s visit to the navy first as strategic partner in protecting the maritime sector of the country.
He also agreed with the Director General that in the country had in the last few months witnessed an upsurge in piracy and criminalities in the maritime sector.
The naval chief however noted that a lot of measures were being put in place to maintain sustained security in the coastal region through provision of intelligence equipment, setting up of a task force team and at least three to 10 capital ships and over 20 boats.
Meanwhile, the review of the existing MoU is coming months after both the Navy and NIMASA reasserted the agreement with Tompolo’s company and others, saying it did not in any way encroach on the constitutional duties of the Nigerian Navy to protect the nation’s maritime coast.
The then Director-General of NIMASA, Mr. Haruna Jauro, debunked the rumour and reports that the federal government has terminated the contract with Tompolo’s firm, saying the contract was designed for a 10-year period.
He disclosed that the maritime agency’s deal with Global West had been running for three years now out of the 10-year period covered by the contractual agreement.
He said: “It does not. Yes, it does not because the Navy is one of its kind and no one is willing to go there and take anything from them.
“It (the contract) is supposed to be for 10 years. It has ran for three years.”