By Godwin ORITSE
THE management of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has said that the creation of a Coast Guard to secure the nation’s maritime domain is not its priority.
Speaking with Sweetcrude in Warri, NIMASA’s Director General Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi stated that the Act setting up the agency is very explicit on the matter of the protection of the maritime environment.
Akpobolokemi also stated that NIMASA can interface with any organisation as long as due processes are followed.
He stated that if the Government deems fit to set up a Coast Guard let the government do that.
He said: “That is not our priority right now, you know our Act is very explicit, we can interface with anybody, with any organization, following due process.
“The Nigerian Navy and other security agencies are there; let us not rush into Coast Guard issue
“If it is the interest of the Federal Government to set up a Coast Guard, that should be the decision for the government, it is not NIMASA.
“For now the civilian operation in the maritime sector is what we are interested in, the limitations we have is that we cannot carry arms and ammunition so we bring in the Navy to do that aspect for us and that is essentially what we are doing.
“The Navy will come and board these platforms that we are acquiring, in a way we are helping the Navy to secure our maritime domain.
“That gap that has been created for ten to twenty years is being closed and our relationship with the Navy is going to be re-enforced”
It would recalled that the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners along with other stakeholders kicked against the concession of the Nigerian Maritime domain to a private firm Messrs Global West Vessels Specialist Limited purportedly owned by an ex-militant.
The mariners rather called for the creation of Coast Guard which they described as international best practice in the maritime trade.