The Federal Government inaugurated a 13-member Inter-Agency Maritime Operations Coordination Committee (IMOCC) in Abuja on Tuesday as part of efforts to enhance safety in the nation’s maritime sector.
The committee, aimed at providing synergy among agencies operating in the sector, was inaugurated by Vice-President Namadi Sambo on behalf of President Goodluck Jonathan.
The vice-president said the committee was part of the Federal Government’s efforts at providing comprehensive security for the maritime sector in view of its importance to the nation’s economic growth.
He lamented the lack of synergy among the various agencies operating in the maritime sector.
Over the years, the various maritime agencies in the country have operated fairly independent of each other, creating lack of inter-agency cooperation and coordination of efforts.
“This has unfortunately led to gaps, which criminal elements have taken advantage of to perpetrate illegal activities by engaging in unlawful activities such as under declaration and non-declaration of cargo quantities for appropriate billing.
“Through smuggling, illegal entry of ships, pipeline vandalism and oil thefts, piracy and other violent acts, criminals have inflicted colossal losses on our economy. This has not been in the best interest of the nation.
“I therefore urge you to pursue your mandate with a patriotic fervor, in the interest of this country.’’
Sambo charged all agencies in the industry to shun rivalry and embrace cooperation and collaboration as there was an inextricable linkage between maritime security and national prosperity.
He also charged them to provide monthly report on the status of the maritime sector to the Presidency.
Sambo also tasked the committee members to be sensitive to some operational guidelines, which he enumerated as the need for a robust electronic surveillance system; the pulling together of platforms from all relevant agencies to establish physical presence and contact on Nigeria’s water and with vessels.
He enjoined them to engage in regular collation and analyses of information from agencies operating in the maritime sector.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the Committee, Rear Admiral Ogbo of the Nigerian Navy, assured that the members would bring their experiences to bear in the discharge of their duties.
He pledged that they would produce a workable solution that would serve as a template in realising a safe and secured maritime domain.
Members of the Committee are Mr. M.S. Nagogo, Barr. Buhari Bello, Mrs. O.O. Moore, Air Comdr. Jalingo Atiku, ACP Friday Ibadin and Mr. Shehu Ahmed.
Others are Mr E. I. Edorhe; Comptroller Kevin Vongman, Engr. Philip Chukwu, Capt. Warrendi Enisuoh, Jamil Muktar Tahir, and Engr. O.O Balogun.
The terms of reference of the committee are to identify and address factors that had sustained illegal bunkering and pipeline vandalism in the petroleum industry and to identify and address the factors that enable illegal entry of ships into Nigerian waters.
Others are to examine the problem of importation of contraband through the sea and proffer solution; examine the common phenomenon of non-compliance with domesticated international convections and local maritime laws and make appropriate recommendations.
Members are also to study factors responsible for the failure to implement the Local Content and Cabotage laws in the maritime sector and recommend measures to address the situation.
They are to design a framework for collaboration among relevant government agencies in the sector and suggest other measures that will enable the achievement of government’s objectives for the maritime sector in the Vision 20: 2020.