Nigeria’s newly approved anti- piracy law will facilitate effective prosecution of pirates, the Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Bashir Jamoh has said.
Jamoh who was represented by, the Agency’s Head of Legal Services, Victor Egejuru, disclosed this on Monday in a statement signed by the Head, Corporate Communications, Philip Kyanet, at the official handover of pirates arrested by the Nigerian Navy for prosecution in Lagos.
According to the NIMASA D.G, the agency was collaborating with relevant agencies and stakeholders for the security of the country’s maritime domain.
The 10 arrested pirates had on May 15 attacked and boarded a Chinese vessel, MV HAILUFANG II, off the coast of Côte d’Ivoire and directed it towards Nigerian waters, but the vessel was intercepted by the Nigerian Navy after they received an alert.
The statement said the, “prosecution of the pirates would be the first trial of bandits arrested in international waters under the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act signed into law in June last year by President Muhammadu Buhari. The law made Nigeria the first in West and Central Africa to have a distinct anti- piracy legislation. “
The D.G attributed the success of the arrest to the collaboration between NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy, adding that the Agency would continue to work with relevant security agencies to eliminate piracy in the Nigerian waters.
Jamoh said, “We have just witnessed the handover of pirates. This is as a result of the robust collaboration between NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy. There has been a lot of synergy between NIMASA and the Navy with regards to the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act.
“I also want to seize the opportunity to thank Mr. President for signing the anti-piracy law, which would facilitate sufficient prosecution of these pirates.”
Jamoh, said, “With the anti- piracy law, there was ample legal framework to prosecute pirates and other perpetrators of maritime offences in the country to bring the menace to the barest minimum.”
The Commander of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Beecroft, Commodore Ibrahim Shettima, while shedding light on the arrest of the pirates, said the vessel had 18 crew members comprising Chinese, Ghanaians, and Ivorians.
Shettima said, “On interception of the vessel about 140nm south of Lagos Fairway Buoy, the pirates had refused to comply with the orders of the Navy ship, hence the Nigerian Navy had to conduct an opposed boarding of the vessel. All ship crew were safely rescued, while the 10 pirates were also arrested.
He also stressed the need for increased collaboration and information sharing among West African States. He added that the arrest of the pirates was due to an alert by the Beninoise Navy.
The NNS commander however warned pirates to stay off the Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea, saying the Navy had the capacity to deal with their threats.
The statement further quoted Jamoh saying, “the current management of NIMASA will focus on three main areas, namely, Maritime Security, Safety, and Shipping Development, in pursuit of a robust maritime domain for the country.”