Nigeria: The Noise From NIMASA Editorial

The rules are clear. The director general of NIMASA should hand over anyone who infringes on the law to the appropriate authority

The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi has threatened to reveal the “big names” behind piracy and crude oil theft in the country. The NIMASA boss said last week in Abuja: “There are some big vessels under my custody belonging to organised piracy and crude oil thieves. Very soon, I will release all the big names in the syndicate. Once I do that, people should not come and say it is ethnic cleansing or that it is 2015.”

We consider Mr. Akpobolokemi’s statement as nothing but needless grandstanding. For if indeed the director general knows the groups or individuals whose activities had for long constituted serious threat to the national economy, why has he been keeping quiet? Why are the law enforcement agents not going after them? Introducing politics into what is purely a serious economic sabotage is a clear dereliction of duty that even borders on accessory after the fact of criminality. Indeed alluding to the politics of 2015 may be the DG’s own inventions to deflect attention from what is going on at NIMASA.

Unfortunately, this will not be the first time that the NIMASA boss will be making some noises about his job and how he is saving the nation from the activities of pirates and crude oil thieves. As recent as last December, Akpobolokemi made exactly the same statements as the one he made last week. It is also on record that the NIMASA DG had twice in recent time paraded some alleged marine pirates purportedly arrested and detained by his operatives. However what is not known is how many people Akpobolokemi have successfully prosecuted with all the occasional noises of arrests and detentions.

On why his agency has not been able to rid the nation’s coastal lines of pirates, bunkerers and oil thieves, the head of NIMASA had this to say: “Our law enforcement agencies are not spared in this matter, if you want to solve the problem of high-jacking, piracy, illegal bunkering and oil theft, something must be done and the right steps must be taken.” The same Akpobolokemi had earlier complained that his agency was handicapped and ill-equipped to effectively perform its duties, saying it was regrettable that the government has not given the agency the needed conducive operating environment to do its job.

The NIMASA DG cannot be reluctant in making public the so-called big names of oil thieves and big ships in his possession and at the same time claiming that his agency is handicapped. If indeed he has such a list the most proper thing to do will be for the NIMASA boss to name and shame those behind the oil theft syndicate or hand the list to the relevant security agencies rather the endless saber-rattling.

It is recalled that just last September, Akpobolokemi’s men had invaded the tank farm of Integrated Oil and Gas Limited in Apapa, arrested and detained its Managing Director and the former Minister of Interior, Capt. Emmanuel Iheanacho, on grounds that his (Ihenacho’s) depot was used to store stolen oil. In that operation, Akpobolokemi employed the services of some naval and military personnel and a former Niger Delta militant leader, Chef Government Ekpomupolo, alias Tompolo. As it would happen, Iheanacho vehemently protested his company’s innocence and after a few days he and his detained members of staff were released from detention. Since then, nothing has been heard about the matter.

Therefore, instead of playing to the gallery to win public sympathy for the “great work” he is doing at NIMASA, Akpobolokemi should show more seriousness. He should feel sufficiently challenged to disclose the “big names” behind piracy and crude oil theft in the country and hand the list over to law enforcement agencies for prosecution. If he doesn’t do that, he stands accused as an accomplice in the illegal activities of piracy, bunkering and oil theft.


Original Article