The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), on Tuesday, said the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act, has become a model in Admiralty matter among countries in the Gulf of Guinea (GOG).
This was disclosed by the director general of the agency, Dr Bashir Jamoh, at the 2nd Nigerian Admiralty Law Colloquium, organosed by the agency.
The NIMASA DG, however, stated that victories in courts have helped reduce piracy to a 27-year low on Nigeria territorial waters.
Dr Jamoh said, “in 2019, the SPOMO Act came into law. This act provides the legal teeth for the war against piracy in the Nigerian maritime environment. The further zeal to keep our maritime space secured, promote socio-economic development and leaving no stone unturned, led to the launch of the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure popularly referred to as the Deep Blue Project.”
“the unprecedented support NIMASA has received in enacting the SPOMO Act. The recorded convictions of criminals and their sentencing between 2021 and today has sent a clear message to all would-be practitioners of piracy and sea criminality that Nigerian waters will never again be a safe haven for them. They now know that if they do the crime they will serve the time.
“These victories in the courts have rippled across the waters to help reduce piracy to a 27-year low. Additionally, Nigeria has become the judicial benchmark for the entire Gulf of Guinea in Admiralty matters as other member countries are now using the SPOMO Act as their model. We are indeed thankful, my Lords.”
“I am delighted to inform you that these interventions by the agency are being recognised. Even the respected International Maritime Bureau (IMB), acknowledged our efforts and commended Nigeria’s progress in her quest for security in the Gulf of Guinea in its reports.”
“On Maritime Safety, the Vessels calling at Nigerian ports are regularly inspected and the applicable international Conventions, standards are implemented. Similarly, we have improved the standard of examination and certification of seafarers and declared war against forgery of certificates bearing in mind that maritime safety is only achievable where you have competent crew.”
“Furthermore, the Agency is set to remove wrecks in our waters as arrangements have been concluded for wrecks and derelicts recovered to be recycled in partnership with Bayelsa State Government and the Nigerian Railway Corporation.
“We are also concerned about the prevention of maritime pollution and the protection of the sea, fishing resources and sea mammals, some of which are on the endangered species list. The Agency is raising safety standards on Nigerian waters in line with IMO regulations and is intensifying efforts in achieving a pollution-free marine environment.
Speaking earlier, director general of NIALS, Professor Muhammad Ladan, acknowledged that piracy has gone down tremendously in the GoG in 2021.
NIALS DG said, “My Lords. distinguished participants. | am happy to report that 2 years after the coming into force of the SPOMO Act. the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, sentenced ten pirates to 12 years imprisonment each with a 250,000 Naira tine on each count for hijack of a merchant vessel in May 2020.
“Similarity, In July 2021, it was reported that s Togolese High Court convicted nine (9) pirates, following an attack on a tanker in May 2019 and sentenced one of the pirates to 15 years in prison while the rest were each sentenced to 12 years in prison.
Compared to the year 2020, 2021 was a much better year for both Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea as well as the global maritime community in dealing with piracy and other maritime crimes.”
“According to the International Maritime Bureau (IBM) report, the number of pirate attacks and kidnapped seafarers in the Gulf of Guinea region has dropped significantly. In Q4 of 2020, about 23 attacks were made against merchant ships trading in the region while 5O seafarers were kidnapped. In Q4 of 2021, the numbers dropped to 7 attacks and 20 kidnappings.
“My Lords, the region recorded 34 Incidents of maritime piracy and armed robbery at sea in 2021, a sharp drop from 81 in 2020. While kidnappings at sea dropped by 55% in 2021, the region continues to account for all kidnapping incidents globally, with 57 crew taken in 7 separate incidents.
“The decline of piracy incidents in the Gulf of Guinea also led to the overall global reduction in reported incidents In 2021:with 132 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships across the globe, the lowest recorded level since 1994.
“However, the Gulf of Guinea which remains the world’s privacy hotspot is home to Nigeria, whose economy generates more than 70 per cent of the seaborne trade in West Africa and the Gulf of Guinea because about 90 per cent of global trade is carried out by the international shipping industry for import/export of goods.
“Through this strategic colloquium, we wish to enhance the capacity of, and remind our, justice sector actors, that we will all prosper when the seas around us are safe. secure and free for all to use and exploit natural resources, promote trade and investment, tourism, marine science and technology. maritime transport.
“Through this colloquium, we hope to build a greater understanding of the common challenges of maritime safety and security and how SPOMO Act 2019 seeks to promote synergy among the justice sector.”