By Kenneth Jukpor
Following the recent attack on a tanker vessel named, ‘Nave Constellation’ which saw nineteen crew members kidnapped, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has said that it was working with the Nigerian Navy and other global organisations to rescue the victims.
The Director General of NIMASA disclosed this yesterday while noting that the unfortunate incident would spur the agency to fast-track the maritime security architecture to ensure adequate safety on the nation’s territorial waters.
The Director General spoke on the sidelines of the just-concluded National Transportation Summit organised by the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria (CIoTA), stating that the tanker was attacked off the coast of Bonny with nineteen persons alleged to have been picked up leaving nine crew members onboard the vessel.
“The operators of the vessel made contact with NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy and we immediately went to work”, he said.
He noted that the vessel owners had operated for ten days within Nigeria’s territorial waters yet didn’t establish contact with the Harbour Masters. It also didn’t establish contact with the authorities in Nigeria.
“However, that isn’t an issue because life is more precious than any other consideration. We have also immediately contacted the naval unit around that area and they have gone to work. The Navy has established contact with the remaining crew members onboard the vessel and the nine persons onboard the vessel are safe and the vessel is safe”.
Dakuku, who lamented that this is happening at a time that efforts are being put together to make Nigerian waterways safe gave the assurance that the agency will not rest on its oars. “I think this would ultimately serve as catalyst for us to fast-track what we are doing to safeguard our waterways so that commerce can thrive again and people can do economic activities without fear or hindrance”.
While sympathizing with the victims and their families for the ordeal and challenges of being kidnapped, he urged every concerned citizen and stakeholders to come together and work with NIMASA and relevant security Agencies to end the menace.
Recall that Nigeria recently hosted a Global Maritime Security Conference (GMSC) where several engagement with stakeholders from all over the world, on the global maritime scale towards enhancing collaboration among maritime nations in order to find lasting solution to the security issues on the Gulf of Guinea and on the entire West and Central Africa.