Agencies Own Up Defeat
- 2015 Budget Threatened
The level of piracy and oil theft on Nigerian territorial waters may be on the increase in 2015 as the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and other security agencies have acknowledged that they are not capable of taming the monsters because as they arrest the culprits, the courts release them.
The acknowledgement was made by the Director General (DG) of NIMASA, Dr. Patrick Akpobolokemi at the World Press briefing organized by the agency in Lagos, last week.
Akpobolokemi admitted that the agency has not been able to achieve a significant feat in the area of prosecution as the Act that set up NIMASA does not empower it to prosecute offenders rather it can only make arrests.
This is coming at a time when there is a gradual decline in oil price and devaluation of the Naira, suggesting that 2015 will be a precarious year for the economy of Nigeria.
In his word, the DG said, “If I tell you that we have been very successful in prosecution, I am not telling the truth,
“To implement the law in this land is a big problem. You take a pirate to court, in the next one hour, you see him and he will even send you a text that he is back and will be threatening to deal with you.
“Sometimes, I become very sad when I think about this thing because it is not about what we can do because there is separation of powers,” he stated.
Speaking further, he said that if any of the arrested culprits was prosecuted and perhaps jailed for six months or one year, it would serve as a deterrent to others who may have similar motive.
He however regretted that the culprits are released almost immediately after they were taken to the court for prosecution even as he said that they would also create awareness to show that they have been released.
The NIMASA boss quipped, “But after twenty four hours, you see this thief calling your phone saying that I am back.”
He therefore called on Nigerians to rally round the agency to put an end to the menace adding that the agency’s mandate is to make arrest.
Speaking tough, Dr. Akpobolokemi reiterated that the present management team of NIMASA would not renege in its effort to see that the agency carries out its statutory functions.
He added that some people are sabotaging the efforts of the agency to clear wrecks from the waters because some people use them as hide-outs to perpetrate crime on the waters ways.
But according to him, the Federal Government has awarded contracts for the removal of the wrecks from the Nigerian maritime domain adding that the first phase of the contract has been awarded in the South/South and Lagos areas.