Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh has said that the half year report of the global maritime watchdog, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), released on Wednesday has given credence to Nigeria’s efforts in combating piracy in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) including the nation’s Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure also called the Deep Blue Project. Dr Jamoh stated this in his address during the virtual inaugural meeting of the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaborating Forum/ Shared Awareness De-confliction (GOGMCF/ Shade).
He said: “Co-Chairs, let me bring to the attention of this august gathering some cheering news -the fact that there has indeed been a gradual de-confliction in our waters as evidenced in the recent IMB Report dated July 14, 2021 indicating a reduction in attacks and other forms of criminalities to an all-time lowest levels in 27 years.
This is visible progress that can only get better.” According to him, the launch of the Deep Blue Project; the establishment of a special Maritime Intelligence Unit within NIMASA for local profiling and intelligence gather ing; and the adoption of a an incentivebased programme of carrot and stick measures to engage the youths in the creeks of the coastal areas of Nigeria are some of the measures put in place to achieve the gains announced by IMB.
“Also, the consistent engagement with and contributions from the NIMASA Joint Industry Working Group have no doubt been invaluable to this decline,” he said, adding, “As we move forward together in this common cause to curtail criminality in our regional waters, I would like to challenge us all to be driven by the principle of shared responsibility that should draw from our collective strengths and comparative advantages.”
He further stated that the overriding target of Nigeria the SHADE-GoGForum is to ensure the safety of seafarers in the course of their lawful, professional function while advancing international shipping in the waters of the Gulf of Guinea. IMB in it’s half year report released on Wednesday noted that the global piracy fell lowest in 27 years on the fall of Nigeria, nay, the Gulf of Guinea piracy.
The report notes that “the number of kidnappings in the Gulf of Guinea in the second quarter of 2021 is the lowest since Q2 of 2019. While 33 incidents of piracy were reported in the last quarter of 2020, six cases were reported in the second quarter of 2021.
The IMB report also noted that the number of kidnapped crew in the region also declined from 50 in the last quarter of 2020 to 10 in the second quarter of 2021.
Whilst IMB welcomes reduced piracy and armed robbery activity in the Gulf of Guinea, Michael Howlett a Director at IMB commended efforts by the Federal Government of Nigeria to tackle the challenge of piracy in the region, adding that reporting all incidents to the Regional Authorities and IMB PRC will ensure seafarers maintain pressure against pirates.
“Bringing together maritime response authorities through initiatives – like Nigeria’s Deep Blue Project and Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum – will continue and strengthen knowledge sharing channels and reduce risk to seafarers in the region,” he said.
Sunday Telegraph recalls that on June 10, 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned the Deep Blue Assets geared towards deterring all forms of illegalities on the nation’s territorial waters. This is in addition to the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act signed into law on June 24, 2019 to prosecute and punish criminalities.