INSECURITY: NIMASA Raise Alarm Of Arms Importation through Nigerian Waters.

Fresh facts have emerged that a high percentage of arms and ammunitions importation into Nigerian actually come in through the Nigerian waterways, even as the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has called the attention of maritime and petroleum industry stakeholders to the need to cooperate with it to further improve the level of security on the waters.

Director General of NIMASA, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi made this call yesterday at a breakfast meeting and stakeholders parley organized by the agency in Lagos.

Akpobolokemi who acknowledged that the practice have continued over the years due to the incapability of NIMASA to efficiently provide adequate security on the waters however assured that with the acquisition of new patrol boats by NIMASA normalcy will soon be restored on Nigerian waters.

“The number of arms and ammunitions that are coming into this country is alarming, some are coming through the waterways, some are coming through the airport, some are coming through the border, since we are only concerned about the waterways security we should be interested in who is involved in these kinds of business so that we can give account when we are called upon by government” the DG said.

Akpobolokemi also charged the International Oil Companies (IOC) in Nigeria to ensure that they furnish NIMASA with details of their security activities at all times and demanded that the names of companies and other information about their platforms and other relevant importation details be made available to the agency afresh.

“We appreciate the reason why operators in the industry, the oil multinational companies usually engage private people in providing vessels while the navy and other operatives board these vessels and provide security, we appreciate it because of the security challenges and at a time when NIMASA was not capable of doing that, we do not see anything wrong in that”

“However, what we intend to do is that, you can have private people supply you vessels and the navy or any of the security agents will be part of maintaining security for you, but because we are interested in knowing what is happening in our maritime domain and recommending our findings to government for further decisions, we should be kept in the picture, it is important that you have clearance from NIMASA indicating who supplied the vessels for purpose of security patrols”

Continuing, the NIMASA Director General read the Riot Act to shipping companies operating in Nigeria, even as it says that many of them through their illegal activities are sabotaging the 3% levies accruable to the Federal Government through NIMASA on every ship berthing at the ports.

Akpobolokemi alleged that many of the shipping companies operating in the country engage in manipulation of their shipping manifest as well as under-declaration of cargoes imported.

He said that many of them carry out Ship-to-ship (STS) transfer of cargo on Nigerian waters without recourse to NIMASA as the regulatory agency.

Akpobolokemi has however warned that henceforth, stiff sanctions will be imposed on any shipping company that is found wanting because according to him, these illegal activities is affecting NIMASA revenue.

Manifest must be given to us 7 days before the vessel arrive Nigeria ports for us to prepare, it is not just about collection of money, it is our duty to police these vessels in case of attacks and to ensure they don’t run into problems.

“Also worrisome is the manipulation of manifest and under-declaration of cargoes, often times we see shipping companies manipulate manifest and under-declare their cargo fort purposes of paying a small amount of money which results into huge economic loss for the government, henceforth, if we know about this, sanctions will be given”

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