One of the biggest challenges facing President Goodluck administration remains tackling activities of maritime criminals, particularly the highly syndicated oil stealing, which is allegedly carried out in collaboration with foreigners.
According to Nigeria Navy official, the country is losing about N250 Billion (Naira) monthly to maritime crime.
This amounts to approximately N3 Trillion (Naira) annually, nearly the nation’s total 2013 appropriation of N4.987 Trillion.
Smuggling, piracy and bunkering are top on the list of the crimes described by Air Vice Marshal Eko Osim, during a television programme as economic sabotage.
At a seminar for the junior course 76 on how to Police the maritime environment held on Friday by the department of maritime warfare, Armed Forces Command and Staff College, in Jaji, Kaduna State of Nigeria, Osim, revealed that crime in the territorial waters of the Gulf of Guinea has become sophisticated as the criminals keep devising various means to beat the law.
Osim was represented by his deputy, Rear Admiral Sanmi Alade.
According to the Director, Department of Maritime Warfare, Commodore Kenneth Ati-John, the theme of the Seminar, “Multi Agency Cooperation: A Panacea for Enhanced Maritime Security,” was apt considering the lack of effective information gathering and sharing in the fight against maritime crime between the country’s security agencies.
Nigeria and other countries blessed with water resources depend on the sea for commerce and international trade, but in recent years, the Gulf of Guinea maritime environment has been increasingly threatened by a myriad of security challenges such as piracy, poaching, smuggling, oil theft, trafficking and other transnational crimes.
Other challenges include insufficient patrol ship to fight maritime crime, illegal ship to ship transfer, oil bunkering, pipeline vandalism, insufficient platforms and shortfall in manpower.
It is in the light of this that the college included maritime policing in its academic curriculum.
These challenges, the participants observed, could not be handled by the Navy alone.
They emphasised the need for synergy of efforts amongst other security agencies towards ensuring a safe and secure maritime environment.
In their separate presentations, some of the participants explained that the objective of the exercise was to improve maritime safety and security through internal and international security partnerships and at the same time developing trained and motivated maritime professionals.
In 2010, there were at least 45 cases, 2011 witnessed 64 cases and as at June this year, vessels had been attacked more than 32 times.
Oil vessels, foreigners, their goods, money and other valuables are targets.
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