Aiming to rid its waterways of criminal elements and reassure the global community that it is getting on top of the security issues in its maritime domain, Nigeria will this week begin the prosecution of suspected pirates under the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (Spomo) Act.
This was disclosed by director-general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (Nimasa), Dr Bashir Jamoh, during interactions with journalists in Lagos.
It follows the Nigerian Navy’s recent arrest of pirates with intelligence from Nimasa.
The suspects’ trial will be the first under the anti-piracy law signed in June last year by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The law made Nigeria the first country in West and Central Africa to have a standalone anti-piracy legislation.
Jamoh said the Agency was mounting a spirited campaign to root out piracy and armed robbery in the country’s waters.
He said Nigeria’s waters were now safer for navigation as the proactive approach of Nimasa to safety and security at sea had started yielding fruit.
This was clear from the multiple arrests of suspected pirates in the second quarter of the year, he added.
Jamoh revealed that Nimasa had sent a proposal to the government on the issue of providing incentives for stakeholders in the maritime sector.
The Federal Ministry of Transportation was also putting the final touches to arrangements for the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), he revealed, stressing that operators in the maritime industry would soon begin accessing the fund.
He said fighting crime with intelligence and technology had been the hallmark of his administration in the battle against piracy.
Members of the media pledged their full support for the Agency’s efforts to get rid of the pernicious obstacles to safe and secure navigation in the country’s waters.
Jamoh said findings had revealed that these criminals worked with the cooperation of international allies and that was what made them sophisticated.
“We have set out to tackle them through intelligence gathering and collaboration with relevant stakeholders. Our recent arrests have shown the international community that we are not handling illegalities in our waters with kid gloves.”