Secure anchorage deal criminal, selfish, says Amaechi

  • NIMASA assures of 80% security assets by June

NIMASA Director-General, Dr. Dakuku Peterside (left), Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, Director, Maritime Safety, Federal Ministry of Transport, Paul Adalikwu, and the NPA Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman, during a media conference in Lagos on the progress of the Deep Blue Project…Monday

Four months after the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) began moves to terminate the contract for the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) being operated by Ocean Marine Solutions Ltd (OMSL) over alleged threat to national security, among others, the Federal Government has suspended the contract.

Addressing the media Monday in Lagos after a security meeting with maritime stakeholders, organised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, said it was criminal and illegal to create anchorage for the purpose of providing security.

Amaechi, who had last year directed the NPA Managing Director, Hadiza Bala-Usman, to write the Nigerian Navy (NN) to cancel the SAA deal being run on its behalf by OMSL, said the decision to stop the contract was his. He insisted: “The issue is that an individual cannot protect a country, it shows that there is a failure in the system.”

The minister insisted that rather than a private initiative on secure anchorage outside the country’s port system, all ships coming into the country must anchor at the national ports under the NPA.

He assured that when fully operational, NIMASA’s Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, also called the Deep Blue Project, would drastically reduce piracy and other crimes within Nigeria’s maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea.

After an approval by the Federal Executive Council to introduce a maritime security architecture, “we engaged the Homeland Security International (HLSI), who are only to provide training and equipment, while the Nigerian Navy would lead the Police, Nigerian Army and Department of State Services, among others that would run the equipment.”  

According to him, government was addressing the concerns over insecurity on the Nigerian waterways, and in a few months from now, insecurity would be reduced, if not totally eradicated. He noted: “There is an upsurge in insecurity in the country and it is becoming a bit alarming.

“In 2016, we secured the approval of both Mr. President and the cabinet to introduce a maritime architecture, which is coming to fruition. The Israelis will provide the training, the rest will be manned by Nigerian security – the navy, army and the police.

“Even though it is within the domain of the Nigerian Navy, we want other members of the armed forces to give them some support until we completely arrest the situation, before they can withdraw and allow the navy to take over.”

Meanwhile, the NIMASA Director-General, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, disclosed that over 80 per cent of the maritime security equipment would have arrived the country by June, adding that the Deep Blue Project assets already in the country included six interceptor boats and a special mission vessel, with a second expected before the end of February.

According to him, six armoured aircraft are already in the country, the first unmanned aerial vehicle would come in before the end of February, and the first special mission aircraft will be in the country before the end of March.

“We expect the first helicopter in the first quarter of this year,” he said. “Almost all the communication gadgets are in the country, as well as the Personal Protective Gear (PPG). The C4i Centre is fully operational at the NIMASA Research Centre at Kirikiri.

“However, between now and June this year, over 80 per cent of the assets would be in the country and would be manned by Nigerian military.”

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