Despite several ship owners and fishing trawler operators engaging the services of private armed guards as for security, the Nigerian Navy has reiterated that it is illegal to have private armed guards onboard vessels in Nigeria.
While speaking at the West Africa Shipping Summit in London, a highlight event of the London International Shipping Week, the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas, confirmed that private armed guards are still not permitted on merchant vessels in Nigeria.
Rear Admiral Ibe-Enwo, represented the Chief of Naval Staff at the event which was hosted by Nigerian shipping and maritime law firm Akabogu & Associates.
West African shipping market was the focus of the full house of industry experts and professionals as leading figures in the Nigerian maritime industry, including the Chairman of the House Committee on Marine Transport, Hon. Lynda Chuba-Ikpeazu, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Mr. Sabiu Zakari, the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside and the Chief of Policy and Plans of the Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Begroy Enyinna Ibe-Enwo.
Speaking to a wide spectrum of global shipping interests, both NIMASA and the Navy acknowledged the challenges in securing the Nigerian maritime domain and affirmed the collaboration between both organisations to abate the incidents of piracy and armed robbery at sea.
Also at the event, Senior Partner at Akabogu and Associates Emeka Akabogu noted that the Nigerian ship charter and freight market, estimated at $10 billion, is a key pillar of import trade and the service sector and urged the industry to fully take advantage through effective due diligence, synergy and regulatory compliance.
He encouraged the use of arbitration for the resolution of maritime disputes.
This position was supported by the President of the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping, Andy Isichei and the CEO of Africa Risk Compliance, Michael Wingate who called for collaboration between shipping and the regulators to bridge the gaps causing key security challenges in the maritime domain.
Chief Executives of L.A.T.C. Marine, Gbolahan Shoba and Ship2Ship Services, Kunle Jolapamo, intervening for ship owners, urged regulators to be more responsive to shipowner challenges, though they noted that they were increasingly moving offshore for better financing solutions.