Speaker of Nigeria’s House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara has put the country’s annual revenue losses of over N7 trillion due to among other reasons, leakages in revenue generation and insecurity in the water ways.
Speaking at a two- day public hearing on ” A bill for an act to amend the maritime operations coordinating board act, (cap. M4 LFN 2004,” organized by the joint committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration & Navy, Dogara presented by the Deputy Minority leader, Chukwuka Onyeama said: “Between January and March 2016, several attacks were reported off Nigeria’s coast. This was said to involve pirates stealing cargoes of crude oil and petroleum products. Reports had it that, no fewer than 44 ship crew members were abducted.
“In the first half of this year, about over 20 commercial vessels were attacked in Nigerian waters. The increasing level of attacks and violence in the Gulf of Guinea have given Nigeria and other countries in the sub-region very damaging and negative image in addition to an estimated monthly loss of $1.5 billion to the country.
“As I said recently, prevalence of insecurity in our waters resulted in the loss of $1.3 billion annually to illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in West Africa alone yearly. We must tighten the legal and regulatory framework to stop these losses. The only way to promote intra- African trade in our water ways is to ensure safety and security of navigation in our waters.”
He said it was disturbing that pirate attacks in West Africa “are said to be occurring in our territorial waters, terminals and harbors and not in the high seas which effectively stopped intervention by international naval forces.”
The Chairman of the House Committee on Navy, Hon. Abdulsamad Dasuki also revealed that while the incidence of sea piracy was reducing in other territorial waters due to effective coordination, it was increasing in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea.
He said it was worrisome that given the repeated warnings by the International Bureau (IMB) that attacks by sea -borne bandits off the West African Coast were in the rise in Nigeria
NAVY RECOVERED $1.17B STOLEN OIL IN 2016
Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral I.E. Ibas who spoke at the hearing said the Nigerian Navy was responsible for the recovery of stolen Oil estimated at about N420.1 billion or $1.17 billion in 2016 alone.
According to him, between January to June 2017, the Navy had also arrested 17 vessels, 525 surface tankers, 31 tanker trucks, 11 vehicles, 27 speed boats, 28 wooden boats and arrested 150 suspects.
He further said 523 illegal refineries were destroyed as well as 445 storage tanks, 85 wooden boats and 49 barges. The worthy of the illegal oil destroyed was in excess of a total of $18.770 million.
The Chief of Naval Staff supported the proposed Maritime Operations Coordinating Board under the supervision of the Navy but to funded by Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
He also applauded the provision for the establishment of Maritime Safety Trust Fund (MSTF) to be managed by the Board.
However, the representative of NIMASA Ali Ndabawa, a Director kicked against the proposal, saying, “Even the composition of the Board does not reflect the maritime security architecture of the country as presently constituted.
“The primary focus of the Maritime Operations Coordinating Board (MOCB) as contained in the principal Act, MOCB Act, 2004 is for the formulation of policies for maritime operations in Nigeria
“The introduction of Piracy and other maritime related offences under the proposed Section 6 are not policy but operational and enforcement issues which already rest with the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Nigerian Navy, NIMASA and the Marine Police.
“This will no doubt create an unnecessary duplication of already existing functions of maritime enforcement security agencies and undermine the international dimension and importance of the Anti-Piracy draft bill which has covered in detail all the offences proposed under Section 6.”