Apparently worried about the rising cases of sea robberies and piracy on Nigerian waters, the IMO Secretary-General Efthimios Mitropoulos has urged Nigeria to intervene to help reduce incidences of acts of piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Gulf of Guinea and in the waters off the coast of Nigeria.
Mr. Mitropoulos took the opportunity of a wide-ranging meeting with Nigeria’s Minister of Transport, Alhaji Ibrahim Isa Bio, which took place at the IMO Headquarters in London recently, to stress that urgent action was needed to assure the international maritime community of Nigeria’s commitment to accord piracy and associated vices priority attention.
Consequently, the minister assured the Secretary-General that he would pass the message to President Umar Yar ‘Adua, even as he informed Mr. Mitropoulos that, as part of Nigeria’s efforts to resolve the problem, the Government had created a special ministry – the Niger Delta ministry – which had been given full powers to address, among other topics, the problem of militancy and piracy.
According to Bio, in 2008, Nigeria had organized an international conference on piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Niger Delta region and that an action plan, agreed at the conference, is currently being implemented.
The visit, the first to IMO by the new minister, was convened to help strengthen the working ties between Nigeria, an IMO Council Member, and the Organization. It covered a broad range of topics.
The minister also seized the opportunity to outline some of Nigeria’s key maritime programmes in the areas of safety, security, marine environment protection and the human element, reiterating Nigeria’s resolve to continue implementing and enforcing the IMO instruments which she had already accepted, as well as its intention to ratify all outstanding treaties. So far, Nigeria has ratified more than 30 IMO conventions.
According to him, Nigeria is working hard to implement the Long Range Identification and Tracking of Ships (LRITS) system and to complete the audit of its maritime training institutions, in line with the requirements of the International Convention on Standards of Training Certification and Watch keeping for Seafarers, 1978.