NIMASA worried over influx of British armed guards on ships
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has expressed concern that after cleansing Nigerian waters of the scourge of piracy, sea robbery and ship theft, a new threat now looms.
This time, it says it is disturbed over what may have possible far reaching consequences for the country where private registered security firms in collaboration with some government officials, provide foreign security personnel for merchant ships.
Director, Shipping Development of NIMASA, Captain Warredi Enisuoh raised the alarm recently that the private registered security firms were carrying out the act “in collusion with unscrupulous officials”.
He disclosed that they had embarked on “unconstitutional” Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) and partnerships to provide security for merchant ships on Nigerian waters.
The MoUs and partnerships, he said, threatened Nigeria’s maritime security.
Enisuoh informed that NIMASA had already detained three ships namely MT Lilac Victoria, MT Uacc Eagle and MT Morgane over the illegal security arrangements.
He said, “All three (ships) have onboard British nationals linked to private security firms overseas, specialized in giving trainings in the use of weapons, amongst others.
“They board the ships in Ghana, Ivory Coast via flights from Europe, claiming to be unarmed but coming to protect ships with their bare hands if attacked.
“NIMASA has embarked on tackling this problem as it seems to be gaining tacit support underground, as they even know local lawyers that will get them off the hook. There is no doubt that they come with arms hidden within the ship or throw them overboard when threatened with a search.
“The weapons they come with may possibly have, could be sold or handed over to others at night while in Nigerian waters. This could well threaten the peace and calm we enjoy in our waters with a possible spill over into land, with a far more devastating effect.”
Enisuoh warned that any vessel that came into Nigeria with a foreign guard, “whether caught armed or unarmed”, will be detained and no cargo operation of any kind will be allowed, while NIMASA works with other sister agencies on the next step of actions to take.
“Ship operators, cargo owners, ship agents, etc, are hereby warned of the delays or possible forfeiture of their ships and cargo to the Federal Government, while those nationals will face the wrath of our laws,” he added.