Despite the Federal
Government’s efforts in deploying 30 gunboats to patrol and police the waterways and creeks in the Niger Delta during the just-concluded elections in the country, armed men suspected to be sea pirates have attacked an offshore vessel near Bonny Island in Rivers State.
A source told The Tide correspondent in Port Harcourt that six armed men stormed the offshore vessel FPSO, and after some sporadic shooting, boarded the vessel and allegedly abducted three crew members of the boat away to an unknown destination.
The source revealed that the fate of the abducted men was still unknown.
However, the source could not ascertain if the gunboats so deployed would be withdrawn after the election as they are originally meant to police oil pipelines vandalisation in the Niger Delta.
Meanwhile, another report has it that an attempt by some sea pirates to attack another vessel about 22 nautical miles off the coast of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was foiled by the Nigerian Navy.
A source who told our correspondent in Port Harcourt could not ascertain if there were casualties.
Another source also disclosed that three armed pirates boarded an offshore supply vessel MV Wide beast in the INIM field, off the coast of Akwa-Ibom State.
The source said all the crew members on board were mustered in the ship’s citadel and a distress call was made and MV Augustina quickly responded.
But before the arrival of MV Augustina to repel the attack, the pirates had disembarked from the vessel and sped-off with their boat.
It was not clear as at the time of filing this report whether the sea pirates were able to cart away anything from the vessel.
When contacted in his office in Port Harcourt, yesterday, the Eastern Zonal Co-ordinator of NIMASA, Mr Anthony Ogadi said there was no official report of such incident to his office as gunboats were dispatched every morning at Bonny to patrol and police the area.
Ogadi noted that if such attack actually took place, his office would be the first to know, pointing out that it might be the local crafts that are not registered with NIMASA, and when they are called for a workshop, they felt reluctant that they knew the terrian.
CBN Partners NPA, Customs In Non-Oil Exports Challenge
Towards improving Non-oil exports in Nigeria, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is partnering the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Customs Services (NCS) in tackling the challenges in the sector.
The Bankers Committee, led by the CBN, NPA, and the NCS have resolved to form a working group to identify and implement measures to address constraints to non-oil exports.
This was the major highlight of the maiden edition of the biannual non-oil summit organised by the Bankers Committee in Lagos.
Among other things, the working group is to take measures to tackle logistics and documentation challenges in the non-oil export value chain.
The decision to set up the working group follows appeals by the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to NPA, Customs and other stakeholder groups in the export value chain to support the achievement of the Race-to-$200 billion (RT200) non-oil earnings programme of the apex bank.
“Achieving the $200 billion non-oil exports earnings requires partnership and support of all the government agencies and stakeholders.
“My hope is that this would be a problem-solving gathering. A summit that will guarantee that for every complaint, problem, issue, challenge or difficulty that is presented or identified, there will be one or several agencies or practitioners that can articulate options for solving that problem.
.“I strongly believe that the ideas harnessed from this maiden summit would be invaluable in helping us reach our ultimate goal of $200 billion in non-oil exports over the medium term.
“I want to appeal to the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority and the Nigeria Customs that we establish a working group comprising the Bankers Committee, NPA, the Nigeria Customs and maybe a shipping line to resolve two issues.
“We have heard of people who want to export their goods queuing for weeks or months before their goods can go out.
“We need those export proceeds badly. It is sad that because of the problem of finding an easier route for goods to be exported out of the country.
“Nigerian exporters prefer to transport by road or sometimes in barges from Lagos to Accra or Republic of Benin to export from there.
“Doing these, we lose the opportunity to earn export proceeds. Customs and NPA in the working group; we want you to look at the long run and the short run”, Emefiele said.
NIMASA Receives Armoured Vehicles, Others To Boost Maritime Operations
The management of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has taken delivery of additional mobile assets for enhanced maritime security under the deep blue project.
The agency received two unmanned aircraft system, nine interceptor patrol boats and 10 armoured vehicles added to the existing assets earlier procured by the federal government and commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari in June 2021.
Director General, NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, said the additional equipment will improve on the gains recorded in securing the Gulf of Guinea (GOG) and Nigerian maritime domain.
Jamoh, who described the recently held Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum (GOG-MCF/SHADE) in Abuja as a success in rallying international support in the suppression of maritime insecurity, said Nigeria’s commitment in regional maritime security will be sustained.
He thanked President Buhari for his sustained support in the fight against sea piracy and other maritime crimes.
Jamoh recommended the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act emplaced by Nigeria as a robust statute that supports maritime law enforcement, which other countries are considering to replicate.
“Nigeria is improving on her capacity to fight maritime crime by procuring state-of-the-art technology, upgrading human capacity for effective service delivery and deployment of the assets for round the clock patrol, interdiction and reconnaissance with the support of Nigerian Navy and other security agencies with which we signed MoU.
“Indeed we are further encouraged by President Muhammadu Buhari’s support all the time to ensure adequate security of crew members, vessels and cargoes within and around our waters.
“These newly procured assets would assist us in building on the gains already recorded in the fight against piracy, sea robbery, oil theft, kidnapping, illegal fishing activities and others,” Jamoh said.
The main objective of the deep blue project is to secure Nigerian waters up to the Gulf of Guinea.
The project has three categories of platforms to tackle maritime security on land, sea, and air.
The land assets include the Command, Control, Communication, Computer, and Intelligence Centre (C4i) for intelligence gathering and data collection; 16 armoured vehicles for coastal patrol; and 600 specially trained troops for interdiction, known as Maritime Security Unit.
Before the recently procured platforms, the deep blue project had sea assets including two Special Mission Vessels and 17 Fast Interceptor Boats.
While the air assets comprised of two Special Mission Aircraft for surveillance of the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ); three Special Mission Helicopters for search and rescue operations; and four Unmanned Aerial Vehicles amongst others.
Nigeria Imports 2.4m Metric Tonnes Of Frozen Fish Annually – FG
Federal Government says Nigeria imports about 2.4 million metric tonnes of frozen fish yearly.
This, the government lamented, is taking a toll on the country’s foreign exchange reserves
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Wastes Mahmood, stated this during the Internal Coordination Meeting of Implementation of Fisheries Governance Project Phase 2 in Abuja,
Mahmood said Nigeria’s annual fish demand was 3.6 million metric tonnes, but only 1.2MMT was produced domestically.
Represented by Director, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ime Umoh, Manhood said, “Nigeria is a very large country and we need about 3.6MMT per annum but we are able to produce only 1.2MMT through the artisanal, industrial and aquaculture.
“The deficit is being supplemented by frozen fish importation, which is being used to bridge the gap.
“It is not actually that we are going to have 2.5 million metric tonnes brought into the country, but we have a situation that we supplement with frozen fish imports”, he explained.
In the cost implications of this, he replied, “I will not be able to quantify the cost, but I know that it is a toll on our foreign exchange.
“However, it is being regulated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) because only the CBN Governor issues Form-M to anybody who wants to bring frozen fish into the country. So that monetary toll in terms of foreign exchange used in importing frozen fish is to be given by the CBN”.
The minister also assured that the imported frozen fish was safe to be eaten.
“Before it is brought into the country we have to certify where it is coming from, what is the health status, how is it being stored and others.
“We inspect the cold rooms and we have inspectors in Lagos, Abuja and in other locations who inspect the fish to ensure that it is brought in very good condition”, he stated.
He further stated that the federal government was supporting the local production of fish in various ways.
“We train those in the artisanal sector, provide them with inputs and sometimes we boost our rivers with fingerlings. In terms of aquaculture, we establish fish farm estates for youths and women. We also provide them feeds”, he said.
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