NIMASA after sea pirates to rescue crew hijacked offshore Niger Delta

Dr. Dakuku Peterside, Director-General ,NIMASA addressing Newsmen in Lagos on Friday

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) on Friday said it had intensified efforts in its bid to rescue five crew members who were hijacked from a vessel, MT Sampatiki, offshore the Niger Delta.

Dr. Dakuku Peterside, the Director-General of NIMASA, told newsmen in Lagos that the agency immediately contacted the Nigerian Navy for deployment of personnel and vessels in search of the abducted crew immediately they got the reports.

He said the agency had also deployed its satellite surveillance facility alongside the intelligence from the Nigerian Navy to track and confirm that the Liberian-flagged chemical tanker was currently offshore Lome.

Peterside said the agency had also contacted the flag state, the owners of the vessel, and the maritime administrations of Benin Republic and that of Togo to ensure a safe return of the vessel.

He said the Interpol Regional Bureau and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime(UNODO) were contacted to reach their respective bureaus in Togo with useful information that could lead to the rescue of the vessel and crew.

The NIMASA director general, however, restated Nigeria’s capacity to guarantee security of its maritime domain via the agency’s operations to safeguard the maritime domain against all forms of illegal activities.

He said the recent abduction incident had made the agency deploy some of its operational vessels manned by military personnel of the Maritime Guard Command(MGC).

That, according to him, is “to enforce the security and guarantee 24 hours patrol of our territorial waters, especially off the coast of Qua Iboe and Brass in the Nigeria Delta where these incidences seem to be rampant.”

Peterside said NIMASA would continue to strengthen its collaboration with relevant agencies, while acknowledging that its collaboration with some arms of the Nigerian military had been useful.

He noted importantly, that NIMASA was working with relevant stakeholders to pass an anti-piracy bill into law to ensure the necessary framework to counter the menace of pirate attacks.

He also disclosed the commencement of the agency’s process of reviewing its MoU with the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Airforce respectively for continued coastal patrol and air surveillance for improved security and quicker response time to incidents.

Peterside recalled that the vessel had arrived Port Harcourt Port on March 21, 2016 loaded with gas oil, and was subsequently detained by the agency’s surveyors for some verification.

The vessel, according to the director general, was released to sail out of the Port Harcourt port on March 24, while the Nigerian government was officially informed of the abduction incidence on March 26.