By Godwin Oritse
Nigerian Maritime Law Association, NMLA, has expressed concerns over the lull in vessel calls into Nigerian seaports.
The group however commended the Federal Government for launching the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Project known as the Deep Blue Project to protect the nation’s territorial and coastal waters.
In a statement, signed by the President, Mrs. Funke Agbor and Secretary, Mr. Adedoyin Afun, the Association said that NMLA was aware of the disturbing implications of continued security breaches on Nigerian waters, particularly reduced vessel calls, diversion of traffic to neighbouring jurisdictions, unlawful acts against ships and shipping, increased risk premium and general derogation of the country’s reputation as a maritime destination, among others.
Agbor commended the efforts of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, under the leadership of Mr Rotimi Amaechi, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA and the entire maritime community.
Agbor said the association believed that the inauguration of the new security assets and their effective use would, henceforth, induce a significant shift in the approach to maritime security, with more emphasis on prevention.
She noted that the new security asset would also improve effective rapid response to, and enforcement of, maritime crimes and incidents.
“The Association notes the importance of a sustainable framework for the deployment, management and consolidation of the security assets, with stronger and more effective focus on clear Standard Operating Procedures, SOPs, and routine operational protocols.
“There is now the need for a sustainable framework for evidence gathering and cooperation amongst the maritime law enforcement agencies in the area of prosecution,” she said, adding that NIMASA and its partner agencies should expedite actions in this regard.