International group cautions vessels against onboard security on Nigeria-bound voyage

The Maritime Trade Information Sharing Centre Gulf of Guinea (MTISC-GoG) has advised vessels transiting or going to any Nigerian ports not to have any form of security guards, armed or unarmed, onboard.

The advice from MTISC-GoG was issued following the detention on separate occasions of three vessels that had entered Nigerian waters with foreign security guards on board, at least one of these with unarmed foreign guards onboard.

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) had issued a notice to operators, cargo owners, and shipping agents that any vessels calling at Nigerian ports with foreign security guards on board may be detained.

INTERTANKO’s advice “Nigeria and foreign Guards” of 16 February 2015 confirms NIMASA’s recent security notification and emphasises that this applies to vessels with foreign armed guards on board – but that the authorities may consider any foreign guard to be armed.

Nigeria has previously declared that the Nigerian Navy is the sole authority in the country’s territorial waters and exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and that the only legitimate method of security protection in Nigerian waters is the escort services provided by the Navy.

“Members and clients are advised to note the enhanced risk of vessel detention when entering Nigerian waters with foreign security guards onboard and keep in close contact with the vessel’s agent or Gard’s local correspondent to obtain the most up to date and reliable information available at any given time,” said marine insurance firm, Gard.

The MTISC-GoG is a shipping industry initiative supported by a number of countries from within the G7 ++ “Friends of the Gulf of Guinea” (“FOGG”) group, together with International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and INTERPOL. The group has an operations centre near Tema, Ghana which operates 24/7 and is staffed predominantly by secondees from Navies and Industry from the region.

MTISC-GoG aims to improve the safety of mariners operating off Africa’s western seaboard through the development of an accurate regional maritime security picture and the sharing of information from that picture.

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