Stakeholders in the Nigerian maritime industry have disagree with the Director General of Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Bashir Jamoh over his recent statement that dreaded Somali pirates have made an incursion into the nation’s territorial waters.
Jamoh, had raised the alarm when the new Consul-General of the Korean Embassy, Kang Haenggu, and Ambassador Designate of Belgium, Daniel Bertrand, paid him courtesy calls at the agency’s headquarters in Lagos last week.
Addressing the South Korean and Belgian delegations at separate meetings, Jamoh raised alarm that investigation had revealed that Somali pirates were now active in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea.
He said the pirates often navigated through Nigeria’s maritime boundaries and sometimes come through the land borders.
Justifying his position, Jamoh who said the Maritime Intelligence Unit of NIMASA to help nip maritime crimes in the bud through identification of early warning signs, had revealed a relationship between crimes in the Nigerian maritime domain and the Somali pirates.
However, reacting to the statement by the NIMASA DG, the Director, Merchant Navy Association of Nigeria; Capt Abel Ogah, disagreed with the NIMASA DG, stating that the allegation by the NIMASA DG is far from the truth, while asking the DG to come out with proofs that indeed Somali pirates are the ones that have been causing troubles on Nigerian waters.
He declared that: “Somali is not even in the Gulf of Guinea, how possible is that, so that’s not true?
Speaking also, a former National President of the Nigerian Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association Engr. Matthew Alalade also expressed doubt over Somali pirates’ invasion of Nigeria waters
He urged the DG NIMASA to substantiate his proof if it has any element of truth in it.
“He needs to substantiate it, because when the news broke, I was surprised, because I don’t see the Somali pirates coming to invade Nigeria waterways, let him come out with critical proof that indeed Somali pirates are invading Nigerian waters”, he argued.
Corroborating the position of Capt Ogah, Engr Alalade said it would be impossible to navigate to Nigeria. “I don’t think they will even come to Gulf of Guinea not to talk of Nigeria, I don’t believe it, so let him come out fully and explain to us”, he said.
On his part, the President of the National Association of Masters Mariners; Capt Tajudeen Alao however supported the statement by the NIMASA DG, noting that recent pirate attacks in the Nigeria waters shows foreign influence.
He emphasized that the Director General NIMASA is an authority in the maritime security who must have gathered intelligent reports on the invasion of the Somali pirates on Nigerian waters.
He added that, the depth of piracy in Nigeria shows that there is foreign influence they now go to the deep blue sea to hijack vessels.
“Now, we have the anti-piracy law and he (DG) is an authority in that area, so before he talks definitely there must have been an intelligent report as regards that” he said.