The director-general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, has said the agency has put in place measures to sustain the current momentum of security in the country’s waters.
Speaking during a courtesy visit by the director of International Maritime Bureau (IMB), Michael Howlett recently, Jamoh said Nigeria has recorded the lowest level of piracy since 1994, as ‘Deep Blue’ Project comes onstream.
The ‘Deep Blue’ Project, an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Transportation and Federal Ministry of Defence, being implemented by NIMASA, has personnel drawn from the air force, navy, army, police, Department of State Services and other security agencies.
“We are delighted by this latest news from the IMB and the trend of progressive reduction in piracy and related incidents in our waters, but we cannot afford to be complacent about our commitment to the security of our maritime domain.
“We will continue to strive for more effective measures to keep Nigerian waters safe and secure,” he said.
In his remarks, Howlett described the decrease of piracy and armed robbery attacks in the Gulf of Guinea and the efforts taken by maritime authorities in the region as a good development.
“The trend of reduction in piracy and armed robbery in Nigerian waters has continued, with the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reporting in its third-quarter 2021 account a 77 per cent decrease in the first nine months of the year, compared to the same period last year.”
Recall that Nigeria reported four incidents in the first nine months of 2021, in comparison to 17 in 2020 and 41 in 2018. This represents a 77 per cent decrease in incidents between 2021 and 2020 and a 95 per cent reduction from 2018.
IMB also reported a 39 per cent reduction in piracy and armed robbery incidents in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG).
The latest figures came on the back of the launch of the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, also called the ‘Deep Blue’ Project, on June 10, 2021, by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The Gulf of Guinea region recorded 28 incidents of piracy and armed robbery in the first nine months of 2021, in comparison to 46 for the same period in 2020.
“The piracy reporting agency explained that crew kidnappings in the region have dropped, with only one crew member kidnapped in Q3 2021, compared to 31 taken in five separate incidents in Q3 2020. All Q3 incidents in 2021 were also against vessels at port anchorages whilst the average successful kidnapping location in Q3 2020 was approximately 100NM from land.
“The overall reduction of piracy and armed robbery incidents in the region is a testament to enhanced maritime security and response coordination measures adopted by regional and national authorities. It calls for the sustenance of the current momentum.
“However, there needs to be sustained efforts to ensure the continued safety of seafarers as they transport essential goods throughout the region. Coastal states must redouble their coordination and security measures to ensure that piracy and armed robbery incidents continue to decline,” it added.