By Ezra Ukanwa, Abuja
AS part of its contribution to address insecurity in Nigeria, the Nigerian Merchant Navy, during the weekend, sought collaboration with the Nigerian Army and other Security Agencies to stop insecurity, and increase the general revenue base of the Federal Government, FG.
This was even as it stated it has over the years been thoroughly trained to tackle insecurity, stating that partnership with the Federal Government would create platforms to reduce the unemployment rate in the country.
Agaba, who made this disclosure during a press briefing with Journalists, in Abuja, averred that the force is well skilled and better positioned to secure the Nigerian waterways.
According to him, we wish to collaborate with all the security chiefs l, including the traditional rulers concerning the insecurity in our country. We are ready to compliment with Nigerian Army and other security agency to strengthen the security architecture of our father’s land, Nigeria, and also compliment Government’s effort to post Maritime trade and unlock the vast potentials of Africa to the world, convey goods and cargoes from one country seaport to another and sail round the world, protect the integrity of country economic development because sea is a major resources and development to any nation.
The Rear Admiral, however, disclosed that the organization has discovered illegal routes and hideouts of kidnappers, smugglers and channels of importing illegal firearms across the country.
He said that the major locations of illegal oil bunkering include: Lagos, Ogun State, Balyelsa, River State, Edo, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Kogi, Abuja and other states in the country.
Agaba, however, appealed to FG to equip the force with patrol vans, flying boats, rifles, welfares and other operational equipment, recalling that President Muhammadu Buhari gave approval for the operations of new Maritime Security Nigeria Merchant Navy (Coastal Defence Force) on April 20, 2017.
“We have discovered the routes and hideout of kidnappers and channels of illegal firearms and illegal location of oil bunkering in Nigeria territorial water ways.
“We appeal to be equipped with security equipment and to operate with other security agencies and we also need go ahead from presidency and the ministry of defence and just of recent on the 18th of July, 2022, we also sent a reminder letter to the President, the chief of the Armed forces of the Federation to equip us with arms of operation.
“We have Barracks in all over the state including the Federal Capital Territory, this is making it 18years now that we have been processing this without monthly salary”, he stated.
He said that the force proposal was in line with the existence of other national maritime security as it is in line with International Ship and Port Facility Security, ISPS, code convention at the General National Assembly in Geneva Switzerland.
His words: “Our proposal is in line with the existence of other national maritime security as it is in line with ISPS code convention at the General National Assembly in Geneva Switzerland since 2001 that all maritime countries in the world must establish or reestablish its Merchant Navy Coastal Defence Force-Coast Guard to meet up with the International Security Standard.
‘’We believed that though criminality and insecurity may not be completely eradicated in human society but can be checked and reduced to its barest minimum level. We discovered a high level of porosity despite the huge work of our security agencies.”
He also said that the Nigeria Merchant Navy is not duplication any force, personnel or services, ‘’we are complimenting the role of Nigeria Navy, Nigeria Army, Navy, Airforce, Nigeria Police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and State Security Services.‘’
He noted that despite paucity of funds, the force never relent in upgrading the skills of its personnel and repositioning them to better discharge their functions effectively in accordance with the law.
Agaba also prayed FG for approval of the force operational letters including promotion, appointment letters and remuneration.
You would recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the Nigerian Merchant Navy (Coastal Defence Force) to secure the country’s national asset and also create more job opportunities on April 20, 2017.
Also, a Federal High Court delivered a judgment in favour of Nigeria Merchant Navy on the February 11, 2016 in suit No: FHC/UY/CS/67/2015 which held that the security organization was not operating illegally in Nigeria.
“Nigeria need Nigeria Merchant Navy (Coastal Defence Force-Coast Guard) to collaborate with Nigeria Navy and other Security Agencies to stop looses, general revenue to Federal Government and also create job opportunities for Nigeria youths.
“Nigeria also needs the Nigeria Merchant Navy to prevent illegal fishing activities in Nigeria territorial waters, checkmating the gathering of marine product, preventing illegal ships from entering or leaving Nigeria through water ways, participating in search and rescue and salvage operation in time of natural catastrophes,’’ he said.