- Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Isah Jere Idris, receiving a plaque from the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, during his visit to the agency in Lagos…Thursday
By Anthony Nwachukwu
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) will improve collaboration to streamline and fast track the processing of travel documents for seafarers, and enabling documentation for quick prosecution of suspected maritime criminals.
Highlighting these needs in Lagos Thursday during his working visit the to the NIMASA Director-General, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, the NIS Comptroller-General, Isah Jere Idris, stressed that the streamlining of duties will eliminate duplication, while “opening and widening more collaborative opportunities for the mutual benefits of both agencies.”
Jere, who commended NIMASA’s recent flag-off of the maritime labour e-registration as good effort to digitalise maritime safety environment for enhanced data rendition and security, however, sought a closer partnership in “the issuance of travel documents to seafarers to ensure harmonisation for ease of control.”
According to him, “sections 2 and 9 of Immigration Act, 2015 for instance, confer the power to issue travel documents on the NIS. We think that it is important that as government agencies, we need to deepen conversations on how to streamline our processes and procedures to ensure that we do not allow unnecessary duplication or overlap of functions.
“The Ease of Doing Business policy of government would demand that agencies of government consistently endeavour to deploy streamlined and seamless processes and procedures for the comfort of the public as they access our facilities across our various windows.”
He stressed that both agencies would gain a lot, “particularly if we deliberately deepen partnership and synergy in our operational activities, adding: “We shall make very useful contributions to the maintenance of blue border security and national economic prosperity if we join forces to address emerging challenges across our coastlines.
“NIMASA, NIS and indeed other critical stakeholders in the maritime sector need a lot of joint operations and collaborations to meaningfully address the worrisome issues of unacceptable violation of the serenity of our maritime lines and its rich natural endowment.”
Agreeing with Jere, Jamoh, who noted that the NIS has statutorily role for travel documents for Nigerian seafarers, said the issue of migrants coming into the country to conduct maritime business will be difficult without the NIS.
He stressed that NIMASA is not an arms-carrying agency but provides the basic platforms conducive for international trades to thrive since it interfaces with the international maritime organisations.
“International maritime administrations are saddled with enacting policies, developing strategies to ensure safe trips and cleaner oceans in terms of operations,” he said. “It will be very difficult to achieve most of these targets and mandates without the NIS.
Stating that the NIS is at the forefront of ensuring the identification of nationalities, especially when crime is involved, he described as an “oversight” the omission of the NIS in the security agencies partnering NIMASA on the Deep Blue Project.
“On the issue of implementation of the Suppression of Piracy and other maritime-related offences (SPOMO Act), in terms of prosecutions and arrests, and when it comes to foreigners, the NIS is at the borders. They will be the ones to testify, identify; and ascertain the nationality of any criminal being arrested.”
He expressed the need to ensure speedy prosecution of suspects through cooperation, collaboration and information sharing, stating that the biggest challenge is the issue of delayed dispensation of justice, which keeps criminals for a long time without prosecution.
According to him, the NIS has custody of those arrested for crimes at sea, and “when you look at it technically, virtually there is nothing we can do to achieve the mandate of security without the NIS.
Noting that many of those arrested for maritime-related crimes are yet to be tried, Jamoh said “the issue of quick dispensation of justice is something we have to look into.
“In terms of the reforms in the judiciary, we have to put hands together to do everything possible to eliminate the bottlenecks that the judiciary used to experience.
“When we are discussing the successes recorded in terms of maritime insecurity, one thing that cannot be left behind is the issue of quick commencement of the implementation of the SPOMO Act. Trials should proceed the way it should be so that it will send the signal to the international community that we are very serious and up and doing in terms of dispensation of justice.