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The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside on Tuesday said his organization is ready to review the memorandum of understanding (MOU) it has with the Nigerian Navy with a view to making the partnership more responsive to the challenges of piracy and other security threats in the maritime environment.
Speaking when he led a delegation of his executive to Naval headquarters, the DG said, “As an organization, we are responsible for maintaining safety for shipping, safety of life and assets on the sea, for promoting indigenous shipping both on our coastal water and on international trade.
Decrying the increase in the spate of piracy attacks on ships operating on and off Nigerian seas in the last three months, the DG said such incidences were hampering economic growth noting that NIMASA is ready to support a military led patrol of the seas to deal with criminal elements.
His words, “Unfortunately, in the last three months, rising cases of piracy on our water ways has reasonably hampered our economic activities. We think that there should be renewed vigour in the fight against piracy. You may have read it from the media that we are championing a Bill before the NASS. It is one of the strands of our fight against this piracy. Another one we must do together is the military led patrol.
“That is why we are here. We appreciate the fact that we have an existing memorandum of understanding, between the Nigerian Navy and NIMASA in the discharge of our functions. But that MOU is smilingly moribund and we need to look at it again. So that we can deploy all arsenals at our disposal to ensure that this issue of piracy becomes history in the next few months, at most in the next one year”.
Continuing Peterside said, “And there are several reasons for it, we want to secure our water ways for safe shipping, we need to enhance capabilities and we are appreciative of the need to work with others to maximize national resources from all quarters. So, this visit is principally to say we are here to work with the Navy to jointly discharge our responsibility to our nations and our international commitments.
Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ete-Ibas, in his response pledge the commitment of the Navy to work with NIMASA saying “I think I agree with you on your observations that in the recent past, which is just the last three months, we observed this upsurge of maritime threat in the maritime domain.
“I think the reasons for what we have here are not far- fetched, we have an understanding of some of them, but our believe is that we have not relented in effort to ensure that we have a sure maritime environment.
“To this effect we attempted to have at least three Capital Ships, meaning we have the big ones are that have the sustenance of a minimum of 16 days, in addition to the smaller patrol boats which are currently trying to cover the wide space we have.
“Given that we have 84 nautical square miles space, when you put 10 ships out there of course their reach is very limited but we are also doing the efforts of putting in place the surveillance system that we have for the maritime domain and awareness system. We have the one that have been with us over the time and the one that is being presently developed at the office of the national security adviser.
“We want to believe that if these facilities are in place, we will be able to see beyond our horizon and be able to react and respond appropriately to some of these threats. One other thing we have done to contain this situation is that, we set a task group which has seen our ships patrolling the areas we have identified as areas for this criminal” Ibas said.   
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