The recognition for the need to strengthen the nation’s maritime security against piracy and other forms of maritime terrorism has encouraged efforts from different quarters to support the fight in protecting the nation’s maritime activities.
The latest of the support, coming from the United States of America, as disclosed by Nigeria’s Ambassador to the US, Ade Adefuye, that the USA was giving Nigeria a war ship for the purpose of supporting regional peace. This is in addition to an earlier such support.
It would be recalled also that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) recently donated gun boats to the Nigerian Navy to support its patrol strength on the nation’s waters. The NPA had also given such support earlier as an initiative to increase maritime security.
With the trend of terrorism and increased need to improve the maritime security situation, the Certified Institute of Shipping of Nigeria, in one of its annual lectures, took a critical look at the ‘economics of maritime defense’.
It noted that the developed and untapped resources of any nation needs at least a minimum level of physical security from external, internal, or even natural causes.
The lecture rightly noted that it is expected that such security be provided by the government at various level, while a meaningful support is also expected to come from private initiatives.
The maritime challenge was reflected as it is, that the threat to Nigeria’s maritime environment manifest in form of attacks on ships and marine facilities, through sea robbery, piracy, oil theft and illegal bunkering, poaching, smuggling, proliferation of small arms, waste dumping, oil production and pipeline vandalism, kidnapping, marine terrorism and other forms of violent misconducts, which are mostly directed at economic activities and persons.
Data presented showed that as at 2013, the nation had recorded 102 cases of pirate attacks, with over 80 lives lost and over $1.8 billion loss to the shipping trade in 3 years.
In its many efforts to protect the maritime sector from such attacks, the NIMASA initiative includes maritime safety and security, which is backed by the domestication of the IMO Convention like the ISPS Code, Port State Control, Global Maritime Distress and Security System.
The MOU between the Nigerian Navy and NIMASA encouraged the formation of the Maritime Guard Command and the establishment of the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre which goes to show the preparedness to carry out the assigned safety and security mandated by law.
On the part of the Nigerian Navy, the 1959 ordinance gave it the statutory role of maritime security and naval defense of Nigeria within its territorial waters, defense of Nigeria by sea, enforcing all national and international maritime laws ascribed by Nigeria.
Maritime security operations are actions of modern naval forces to combat sea-based terrorism and other anti- maritime activities such as piracy and human trafficking.
In the face of very dire insurgency situations, maritime terrorism could evolve into inland terrorism, thereby making it important for nations to seek guarding their marine borders more than before. Accordingly, each and every nation needs to start its own specific marine patrol programme.
There is also need for interdependence between nations that share marine borders, to facilitate any channel of help that is necessary to defend an attack from marine terrorists.
It should also be known that some maritime terrorism include smuggling and transfer of terrorism weapons and arsenal. The sharing of intelligence and other important information that comes through the informal channels can prevent loss of life.
As a round-off, it is evident that Nigeria has taken various positive steps to ensure protection of its maritime activities against acts of terrorism.
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