The recent successes enjoyed by the Nigerian Navy against pirates, sea robbery and other illegalities in Nigerian waters would boost international trade in the country, according to stakeholders in the maritime industry.
The statement was made during the freight forwarders day in Lagos where accounts of how the Nigerian Navy thwarted 15 determined attacks in the last 12 months were recounted by those in attendance.
They maintained that the foiling of these attacks was actualised by what they called, ‘the swift and decisive actions’ embarked by the NN team, who rose to the occasion when duty called.
One of the stakeholders, Chief Adelusi Owolabi, noted that information in international media and guidance released to shipping would suggest that there are few options available to secure shipping in Nigeria, but the simple fact is that for many years, ships have made use of Nigerian security agencies and particularly the Navy as escorts and embarked guards to fend off any attacks.
On his part, a maritime lawyer, Tony Odiadi, said:
‘Despite these statements being released internationally, no one has been able to state the law that is being broken if this practice is conducted. The reason being that no law is being broken, the Navy is merely delivering on its defence mandate successfully and with approval from the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS).
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This practice is not different from seeing the Nigerian Police Force protecting a bank or the Nigerian Army providing support to the Nigerian Police within the states as task forces to maintain security.’
He said: ‘You have to always look at the 1999 Constitution, the Armed Forces Act 2004 as well as the particulars of the mandates of the Nigerian Navy to secure and protect the Nigerian maritime corridor 200 nautical miles from any violations. None of the enabling laws or regulations are violated. The point is that any security breaches upon a vessel having legitimate presence within Nigerian territorial waters falls upon the Navy to take control, likewise any prevention or pre-emptive measure necessary such as seeking naval patrol or naval guards for protection of ships.’
The maritime lawyer noted that since the beginning of this year, the Nigerian Navy has increased its capacity and platforms, continued to support offshore operations, achieved constant successes against illegal refiners, detained numerous vessels for illegal activity on the nation’s waters, and has delivered on military commitments whilst supporting all maritime trade to enhance the Nigerian economy.