The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has described the theme of this year’s World Maritime Day “Piracy: Orchestrating the response” as very apt and timely as it was focused on arresting the menace which had threatened global peace.
The Director General of the Agency, Ziakede Patrick Akpobolokemi, stated this in a paper titled “Combating”, piracy and Armed Robbery at sea in Nigerian waters, the efforts of NIMASA so far”, during the occasion held at Hotel Presidential Port Harcourt recently.
Mr Akpobolokemi said the menace at a time had become a major economic and security challenges in Nigeria, going by the number of reported and unreported incidents in Nigerian waters, and the attendant backlash on Maritime transportation to and from Nigeria.
According to him, “it is gladdening therefore that this issue has been brought to the fore today and we are convinced that given this level of attention, it will in no distant future assume manageable proportions”.
He said incidents of piracy are major issues under International Laws and that states have a responsibility to take appropriate steps to ameliorate acts of piracy on the high sea or at any other area outside the state as it affects navigation and safety of the waters and disturbed global trade.
The Director General said for these reasons, it must as of necessity be a source of concern for all and be condemned by well meaning stakeholders and persons.
He further stated that NIMASA has adopted some measures in curbing the menace by collaboration with other security forces and provision of resources with the commencement of Maritime Guard Command (MGC).
Mr Akpobolokemi noted that the MGC of the Agency had started regular patrol of the Lagos waters.
He said the development would deter the activities of pirates and armed robbery at sea, while it is expected to be extended to other susceptible marine waters.
Navy Rescues Crew From Burning Fishing Vessel
The Nigerian Navy Command says its gallant personnel rescued three Beninoise nationals from a burning fishing vessel that caught fire at the Lagos anchorage, recently.
Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Oladele Daji, made this known in a statement.
The FOC said the crew members were rescued by the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) BINI after a distress call was sent out past midnight, on April 21.
According to him, on arrival at the scene, the fishing boat was completely engulfed by fire with one of the rescued crew members, Yoes Senovou, severely burnt in the incident.
He said the crew members who could not communicate in English were given first aid at the Naval Base where they were stabilized, while Senovou was taken to the Nigerian Navy Reference Hospital, Ojo, for treatment.
“NNS BINI, while on routine patrol, responded to a distress call from a boat with call sign Sport Tail shortly after midnight on 21st April 2020 within the Lagos anchorage area.
“On arrival at the scene, a fishing boat was completely engulfed by fire. Three crew members, all Beninoise nationals, were rescued from the water and handed over to NNS Beecroft. They were given first aids at the Naval Base and stabilized.
“But one of the rescued crew members, Mr. Yoes Senovou, was badly burnt in the fire incident. He was promptly taken to the Nigerian Navy Reference Hospital, Ojo, where he was treated.
“It was not immediately clear why they were fishing in Nigerian waters, if indeed they were truly fishing. Although none of the crew members could communicate in English, they gestured that they had machinery failure and drifted into Nigerian waters”, the FOC said in the statement.
Daji said efforts were ongoing to hand over the rescued persons to the Benin Republic Consulate in Lagos, if they are not implicated in any criminal activity.
Unpaid Allowances:Dock Workers Shut Operations At PTOL
Aggrieved members of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) on Wednesday shut down operational activities at Ports Terminal Operators Limited (PTOL) located at the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Port Harcourt Complex, over unpaid allowances.
The angry protesters also demanded for the removal of the Acting General Manager of the company, Mr. Mac Pherson, due to his alleged insensitivity to the plights of casual workers.
The protest which started at 8.am saw the gate of PTOL besieged by angry dockworkers who carried placards with bold inscriptions: “Pay us our allowances and we want the AGM removed”.
The protest forced the firm to shut down operations as over 100 dockworkers stormed the company’s premises, chanting labour slogans.
Our correspondent, who monitored the protest reports that the aggrieved workers forced their way into the company’s premises and disrupted its operations.
The angry workers blocked the main gate of the firm and prevented movement of persons and vehicular activities to and from the company.
There was, however, huge presence of armed policemen to prevent any breakdown of law and order.
Although the protesting workers declined to speak to the press, they insisted on the payment of their allowances and the removal of the company’s acting general manager.
Attempts to also speak with the management of the firm proved abortive as none was handy to comment on the development.
Stories by Chinedu Wosu
‘Pirates Abduct 22 Seafarers, Attack 37 Vessels In Four Months’
A global maritime reporting centre, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), said a total of 22 seafarers were abducted by pirates and 37 vessels attacked in the first quarter of 2020.
The Bureau said it received reports of 47 attacks in the first three months of this year, with the Gulf of Guinea remaining the world’s piracy hotspot.
This is as IBM said, many incidents remain unreported even as seafarers were advised to remain vigilant at all times.
The Bureau’s 24-hour Piracy Reporting Centre disclosed this in a statement made available to The Tide.
The centre said, it recorded 21 attacks in the Gulf of Guinea in the first three months of this year, explaining that 12 were on vessels underway at an average of 70 nautical miles off the coast.
Armed perpetrators are targeting all vessel types. They approach in speedboats, boarding ships in order to steal stores or cargo and abduct crew members to demand a ransom, IBM said.
The Bureau explained further that the 17 crew members were kidnapped in three incidents in the Gulf of Guinea waters, at distances of between 45 and 75 nautical miles from the coast; 10 vessels were fired upon worldwide for the whole of 2019, with four already reported being fired at within Nigerian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the first quarter of 2020.
This, according to IBM, includes a container ship underway around 130 nm southwest of Brass.
The report said another container ship was boarded by pirates in another incident around 102 nm northwest of Sao Tome Island.
Speaking on the report, IMB Director, Michael Howlett, said: “Navy patrols, onboard security measures, cooperation and transparent information exchange between authorities, are all factors which help address the crimes of piracy and armed robbery.
“The threat to crew is, however, still real – whether from violent gangs, or opportunistic armed thieves inadvertently coming face-to-face with the crew. Ships’ masters must continue to follow industry best practice diligently and maintain watches.
“Early detection of an approaching pirate skiff is often key to avoiding an attack.”
The piracy report shows zero hijackings in the last two quarters and no incidents around Somalia.
In Indonesia, five anchored vessels were reported boarded by pirates, and five ships boarded while underway in the Singapore Straits.
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