The Nigerian Police fingered inadequate logistics and funding as the major reasons it is difficult for its officers to properly man the nation's waterways.
The Assistance Inspector General of Police (AIG), Maritime Common, AIG, Alkali Baba Usman who disclosed this when he paid a familiarisation visit to the headquarters of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) in Apapa Lagos yesterday, also called for adequate provisions to be made to enable the police to acquire the needed logistics to enable them do the job properly.
He also called for assistance from individuals and corporate bodies in the fight against crime on the waterways even as he lauded Dangote for its assistance.
"That brings me to the issue of funding, if you are talking of budgeting I think you need to do some investigations to know if the budget can actually provide what the police needs to secure the waterways. But we are doing all we can, we are getting assistance from everybody. The port authority command are helping the police in providing logistics to help the activities of the police there in providing at least some equipments. If you are giving the cost of providing some of those things you will know if the budget of the police is enough"
"The issue of the cost of patrolling the waterways for instance I think Lagos State is helping with the assistance of the state marine officers but not only providing logistics for the patrol but also giving other needed assistance even Dangote is eben donating to us. So the issue is there is more to what you can see in terms of the requirements of the police. If there is marine officer that is attached to a place the person needs to be assisted", he stated.
He also maintained that there are rooms for improvement as far as securing the waterways is concerned.
AIG Usman, reiterated that he cannot guarantee the safety of movement on the waterways adding that the force has attached two patrol boats to National Inland Water Authority (NIWA) to ensure security on waterways.
"As for waterways there is room for improvement but you know the waterways are not fully being utilised as we expected to see. For instance of you want to travel to Calabar you might like to take the boat but where will you see the boat going to Calabar from here. Movements on the waterways I won't say its safe and I won't say its not safe, it depends on where you are going. If your going with NIWA, there are boats that you can follow and we have given them two boats for patrol purpose. So I will say that it is safe to the extent of where we are"
He also blamed the lack of synergy as the major reason the arm guards on merchant vessels failed.
"All these attacks all boil down to lack of logistics, the marine police have been able to provide patrol boats. So each time a vessel berths, we provide this patrol for security until they leave. Another thing is even if you don't patrol there is what we call arm hairs on merchant vessels where police provides arms guard but I think they are not finding it easy because of the association with the Navy. But with synergy I think we will be able to achieve that where there are need to provide physically armed police officers to guard these merchant vessels when they are on standby. They need to be guarded by armed officers"
He also said the all investigations relating to maritime should be directed to maritime police for proper investigation.
"All investigation of cases because there are issues where people have problems with one another you see the going to one division that is outside the ports you see police coming from different places. In Lagos we have different commands as far as police area of jurisdiction is concerned. That is why if a crime happened somewhere around the railway you write to the CP in charge of railway. So that is the type of policing that we adopted by increasing the scope. The assistance that NPA is giving to marine police is like talking about all other government agencies and establishments are doing to complement the effort of the police"
In his welcome address the National President of NAGAFF, Chief Increase Uche pointed at overlapping functions of some government agencies as one of the major challenges the stakeholders are having.