Piracy On Waterways Worries Stakeholders


Stakeholders on mari
time sector have expressed worry over worsening spate of piracy on Nigerian waters with offenders allegedly operating without fear of being arrest and punished.
The stakeholders who spoke to our correspondent, in separate interviews called for the establishment of “Coast Guard” in the country and a push on Piracy Bill at the National Assembly.
The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the U.S. military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission with jurisdiction covering both domestic and international waters.
However, the stakeholders believed that the formation of coast guard and new legislation would drastically address the problem of piracy and sea robbery on Nigerian waters.
Some of the stakeholders alleged that the Nigerian Navy was objecting to the formation of coast guard, saying the naval force was seeing the guard as a rival.
Mr Iguwo Ukwu, a Lawyer and an expert on piracy, told our correspondent that despite the fact that Nigeria does not have a coast guard, the country has the largest number of naval vessels in the Gulf of Guinea.
He said some stakeholders alleged that the Nigerian Navy had at a time has low operational capacity, adding that only 28 per cent of its ships were actually believed to be operational.
Ukwu, therefore, stressed the need for government to set up a coast guard in view of the multi-faceted nature of security challenges in Nigerian waters cutting across economic, military and civilian factors.
According to him, the Nigerian Navy had in a conference also considered the formation of coast guard as “capital intensive which require skilled manpower, specialised equipment and duplicate of its functions as well’’.
Ukwu said the Navy had in the same forum admitted that “security agencies lacked the power to confront pirates because the existing law does not permit use of force or effective prosecution of suspects’’.
He added that the Navy then called for the amendment of the enabling laws, in order to give more impetus and power to the force to make arrests and prosecution of pirates possible and easy.