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NIMASA, Navy mull review of MoU to further strengthen maritime space security

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Navy on Monday agreed on the importance and need for a review of their existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding areas they collaborate for maritime domain security.

The Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dayo Mobereola, and the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, shared their thoughts on this very important issue when the Naval Chief paid a courtesy visit on the NIMASA DG at the Agency’s Headquarters Office on Victoria Island, Lagos.

Speaking on the navy’s collaboration with NIMASA for security of the nation’s maritime domain, Admiral Ogalla said: This collaboration is intended to achieve the goal of the Federal Government to ensure safety and security in the maritime domain.

“We are also thinking of discussing more things with you, like the MoU. We want to look at it again and consider things that we can improve upon and see even new areas that we can engage in this collaboration. That is the essence of what we are doing, because we are working for the benefit of our nation Nigeria. If we are able to do our job well, the whole country would be better for it. Incidences of crime will reduce and GDP will increase and the economy will be better and Nigeria will be better. I believe that this will happen in your time.”

The Naval Chief recalled that the collaboration between NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy dates back to many years. He added that he was privileged to have been there when it started, before they developed that maritime security architecture into the Deep Blue Project, the Maritime Guard Command project and so on.

He commended NIMASA for living up to its role as the nation’s maritime regular, while the navy simply plays a supportive role.

His words: “We are mindful of the fact that the role we are playing in NIMASA is a supportive one. NIMASA being the regulator, being the Agency in terms of regulation of the maritime environment in terms of safety, it behooves on us to give them maximum support to achieve that. If you look at our rules in the Armed Forces Act, it is coordinating the enforcement of all maritime laws acceded to by Nigeria. As you make the rules and try to enforce them, it is our responsibility to give the support to achieve that objective, because it is for the benefit of Nigeria.

“I want to commend the Agency for consistent effort, particularly in the implementation of the Cabotage laws in Nigeria. We understand that it is a very daunting task. But NIMASA over the years has shown capacity and readiness to do that which it was meant to do. So, we will continue to fill in the gaps wherever you require us to implement those laws we are always there for you,” Ogalla said.

Appreciating NIMASA for providing the Nigerian Navy with maritime security assets including vessels and platforms, the CNS described the NIMASA Command Control Computer Communication Information (C4i) system as a force multiplier to serve a supportive purpose to all maritime security agencies in the course of their assignments.

He said: “Above all, the NIMASA C4i is a maritime domain awareness facility that can enhance our visibility of our maritime environment, enhance our capacity to be able to get those who want to commit crimes in our maritime environment, even before the get into the real action. That facility is a force multiplier for all the security agencies that operate in our maritime environment. I know that a lot of resources went into that facility to serve all working in the maritime security environment.

“There have been incessant cases of the Automatic Information System (AIS ) infractions in Nigerian waters. Many of the vessels that have intention to come to commit crime put off their AIS. We have arrested some of these vessels and handed them over to NIMASA and we will continue to do that, so that we will discourage those who want to do such act and at the same time make it unattractive for vessels to do such.”

On his part, the NIMASA DG who appreciated the visit by the naval chief, agreed with his submission on the need for a review of their existing MoU, in order to boost the security architecture of the maritime domain.

Dr. Mobereola alluded to the fact that the recent expansion of the nation’s continental shelf made it imperative to boost the collaboration with the Nigerian Navy, to continue to protect the nation’s maritime resources as they fight against crimes and criminality in the maritime space.

The NIMASA DG said: “I appreciate the fact that you decided to personally come to us. This means that you have taken into cognizance the relationship between NIMASA and the Navy. We are here to acknowledge the collaboration between NIMASA and the Navy over the years.

“To start with, we have together, been able to reduce piracy to zero in the last two years. We have reduced drastically, the incidents of sea robberies. We want to maintain that. And when you look at the economy of Nigeria, you would believe that the Blue Economy is where the opportunity is and if the environment is not safe we cannot attract the investment.

“The safety of the marine economy is important. Safety of the marine environment is key to the development of the nation’s GDP.  We would love to expand the scope of our collaboration with you, to be able to cover all the areas required.

“Lately in the last few weeks, the Nigeria continental shelf was increased by another 20 nautical miles. It also means that between the Navy and NIMASA we have to extend our responsibility to take care of the additional nautical miles in order for us to achieve the benefits of it being given to Nigeria. Working together is a key and the opener for the economy benefit of Nigeria. We look forward to boosting this.

You mentioned where you saw some lapses and you discussed with me and my team on the need to sit down again and review the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and come up with a better Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for us to enhance and make good use of our relationship for more effective use of our maritime space.”

Dr. Mobereola added that NIMASA would further want capacity building support from the navy.

The CNS was accompanied by the Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Mustapha Hassan, the Director of Information of the Navy, Commodore Aiwuyor Aliu, and other senior naval officers.

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