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The porosity and poor maritime security surveillance of the Nigerian territorial waters has once again, came to the fore following this week’s attack and kidnapping of crew men aboard a tanker vessel named, ‘Nave Constellation.’
However, in its first official response, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dakuku Peterside noted that “The vessel owners had operated for ten days, within our territorial waters yet didn’t establish contact with the Harbour Masters. It also didn’t establish contact with the authorities in Nigeria.”
Business Hilights recalls that the tanker was attacked off the coast of Bonny with nineteen persons alleged to have been kidnapped leaving nine crew members onboard the vessel.
But in the views of leading maritime security experts, they concurred that the fact that the vessel operators had been on Nigerian waters for days without being spotted and questioned for operating without due documentation suggests high level official inactivity and negligence of critical security responsibility, on the side of NIMASA.
Continuing, Dr Peterside played down the statutory breach of not contacting relevant agencies on entering Nigerian waters, saying “that isn’t an issue because life is more precious than any other consideration. We have also immediately contacted the naval unit around that area and they have gone to work. The Navy has established contact with the remaining crew members onboard the vessel and the nine persons onboard the vessel are safe and the vessel is safe”.
The DG, who lamented that this is happening at a time that efforts are being put together to make Nigerian waterways safe, gave the assurance that the Agency will not rest on its oars.
Speaking spoke in Abuja on Thursday, on the sidelines of the ongoing National Transportation Summit organised by the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria (CIoTA), he said “I think this would ultimately serve as catalyst for us to fast-track what we are doing to safeguard our waterways so that commerce can thrive again and people can do economic activities without fear or hindrance”.
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