The statement issued recently by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) that henceforth ‘all armed and unarmed’ security on board vessels would be prohibited on Nigerian territorial waters is attracting the attention of some maritime security firms operating at the sector.
The statement further stated that the vessel and personnel would be detained and arrest respectively. The statement had therefore created confusion in the maritime community, since it mentioned unarmed security without context.
Investigations, however, showed that the most prominent arrest made on a vessel, LiLAC VICTORIA involved an expat adviser was acting as supervisor and trainer for a team of government security forces.
The situation was further confused by a statement from MITSC which reproduced in several flag adversaries that “NIMASA is viewing all activities in the Lagos Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) by security firms as illegal and therefore engagement of foreign armed security on board vessels is unacceptable and such vessels will be arrested.”
It was gathered that in January this year, three vessels were detained on Lagos water by NIMASA for ostensibly using private security in an unauthorised manner. One British security advisor was arrested.
The vessels were LILAC VICTORIA, UACC EAGLE and MORGANE. Besides, the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Maritime Mr Leke Oyewole had since refuted report credited to him by a maritime journal that he had suggested that the SAAs license should be withdrawn and he described such statement as being misrepresented.
Speaking on this development, a maritime security expert, Mr Ronald Albert, affirmed and postulated that there was no clear domestic legal mandate for the provision of maritime security in Nigeria and there was no specific legislation that governs the use of private security at sea or the use of government security forces contracted through private entities, adding that there are some maritime security firms who are well established without cutting corners and operate with qualified security personnel.
In practice, according to him, there was a marked difference in how and to what standard NIMASA enforces maritime security around LagosA, but the agency generally enforces with own personnel and delivering services with Global West Vessel Limited (GWVSL) especially when it comes to contracting private companies to render what would appear to be asset protection services and maritime surveillance and law enforcement activities.