NIMASA, NIS partner against breach of Cabotage, Immigration Acts

NIMASA Director-General, Dr. Bashir Jamoh (left), NIS Comptroller-General, Muhammed Babandede, and the Executive Director, Maritime Labour & Cabotage Services of NIMASA, Victor Ochei, during the NIMASA chiefs’ working visit to the NIS in Abuja

Towards a more secure maritime domain, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) have agreed to partner in overlapping areas of immigration and Cabotage Act.

The NIMASA Director-General, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, who paid a working visit to the NIS Comptroller-General, Muhammed Babandede, in Abuja, described immigration as a critical stakeholder in the nation’s security apparatus, and stressed the need for cooperation among all relevant government agencies.

In a statement by the Head of Corporate Communications, Philip Kyanet, Jamoh noted that the NIS was key in the implementation of the Cabotage Act, which seeks to empower Nigerians in the maritime sector, therefore the “need to interface and synergise to achieve our common goal of national security.

“Immigration is key to the success of the country’s maritime imperatives in many ways. Many of the criminal activities that take place in our waters emanate from land, and NIS is a very important element in any effort to nip such crimes in the bud.

“Collaboration with the NIS is crucial in the achievement of the objectives of the Cabotage Act. Such partnership will go a long way in reducing inter-agency conflicts that often arise from the overlap of functions.

“There are provisions in the immigration law, for instance, that empower the NIS to grant work permit to expatriates, and some of these expatriates work as seafarers.

However, “according to one of the four legs of the Cabotage regime, expatriates are not meant to man our ships, except where their expertise is needed for such operation. And their services can only be engaged after a waiver has been granted by the minister of transportation.

“To avoid any conflict that may arise from a situation where, for instance, a seafarer had obtained a work permit from the immigration but is not qualified to function as a seafarer within the Nigerian maritime domain, collaboration between NIMASA and NIS is necessary.

“This will help to harmonise the seemingly overlapping laws and forestall unnecessary rancour or squabbling among officers of the two agencies.”

On his part, Babandede said the NIS was ready to partner NIMASA to curb illegal migration and piracy, and has started using the Migration Information and Data Analysis System (MIDAS), a comprehensive border management information system developed by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

He disclosed that MIDAS was designed with the capability to collect, process, store and analyse traveller information, especially the biometrics and profile, in real time for the purpose of identification, verification and authentication of documents.

According to him, MIDAS has been installed in about 24 locations across the country’s land borders, airports and seaports, including at the international airports in Abuja, Enugu, Lagos and Kano, as well as land borders in Ogun, Cross River, Katsina, Jigawa, Kebbi and Zamfara states.

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