The recent resurgence of Boko Haram in the North East, kidnapping, banditry and sectarian conflicts in the North Central, has renewed some concerns in the minds of Nigerians. These are when we had celebrated the reduction of their sinister activities.
Also, the kidnapping of three crew members in River Ramos in Bayelsa and subsequent killing of four Navy ratings in Elaje axis of Ondo state, has shown that there is the serious need to revamp the national security architecture. This should be by decentralising policing and making security more inclusive.
In the area of maritime insecurity (piracy and sea robbery), intense carnage of the maritime, will not only affect our foreigners exchange, but will equally our economy and lives of the people. Nigeria presently ranks the third most terrorised nation in the world.
Also, the international Maritime Bauer report of January 3rd to 25 2020 shows that piracy and sea robbery had reduced in the world but Africa still ranks the highest in attacks. Gulf of Guinea has the highest piracy and sea robbery attacks in the world over.
The fear of crimes in our waterways and on back waters shows that piracy is prevalent at the bight of Biafra and Benn (seas of Gulf of Guinea), sea robbery attacks is increasing in our back waters and waterways.
Due to the heavy presence of sea robbery and pirates’ activities in the Nigerian territorial waters and high sea, most local villages and communities around the shore now live in fear. These activities of sea robbers and pirates, coupled with the oil thieves, have become three of the highest crimes in the maritime industry.
In Nigeria, the persistent pirates, sea robbery and thieves, cause loss of international repute, foreign exchange, physical harm to crew, loss of man power and lives, fear of crime, economy instability and insecurity in the region.
The way out is to revamp the national security strategy to welcome maritime security expert, local intelligences and inclusively encourage other security entrants, who are ready to contribute their quota in tackling insecurity in the country.
The proposed Maritime Security Agency (Special Coast Guard), a self sustained agency that will not discomfort maritime economy, is a ready tool that will assist the Navy and NIMASA in the fight against these three most dreaded maritime crimes.
This is important because maritime security bears huge responsibilities to curb. The persistent maritime security challenge, including the recent of killing of security personnel and seafearers, require the muster of internal formidable team, with continuous partnership and support. This will generate a force that will synergize efforts in combating all threats in the Nigerian territorial waters and Gulf of Guinea, instead of fear of diminish return that will give these maritime crimes fair day in our nation.
Ovweghre is the Acting Director General of the proposed Maritime Security Agency Bill. He writes in from Abuja