In a bid to curtail the activities of pirates in Nigeria‚Äôs territorial waters, the Federal Government has ordered an additional three armoured boats.
The armoured boats, THISDAY learnt, will enhance the central government‚Äôs determination to effectively patrol the waterways and curtail the activities of sea robbers.
Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, who disclosed this in Abuja at the 2013 midterm achievements of the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan in the transport sector, said the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) would take delivery of three additional armoured boats in next few weeks.
Though he did not disclose the cost of the boats, Umar said they would be in addition to the 25 earlier procured by the government.
His words: ‚ÄúIn order to effectively curtail piracy, armed robbery and other maritime crimes at the sea, the agency engaged a service provider, Messrs Global West Vessels Specialist Limited, to provide platform which includes patrol and enforcement boats and electronic software to enforce the mandate. This is in line with the provision of section 23(3) and (4) of NIMASA Act.
‚ÄúUnder the agreement, the service provider is expected to provide a minimum of one and a maximum of 20 boats. 13 armoured boats and 12 conventional boats have been procured, bringing the current total fleet to 25 boats.‚Äù
He explained that in line with the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the agency and Nigerian Navy, NIMASA was asked to provide platforms and logistics to enable the agency perform its statutory function, while the Nigeria Navy was to provide armed personnel in line with its constitutional mandate.
Umar revealed that there were three armed robbery attacks in the period under review, saying that six marine distress incidents such as fire explosion and oil spill were recorded by the agency. Also five vessels were hijacked and one illegal ship-to-ship operation was recorded.
He explained that NIMASA team and Navy were able to rescue seven people and evacuated them the hijacked vessel. ‚ÄúBased on intelligence alert on arms importation, a vessel laden with arms was intercepted and handed over to the Nigerian Navy‚Äù, he said.