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Security expert spurns Deep Blue Project as incapable of ending piracy in Nigeria

—-claims unemployed NIMASA seafarers graduates fuel sea rage
Eyewitness reporter
A maritime anti-piracy security expert and Master Mariner, Captain Alfred Oniyi, had declared that the much-celebrated deep blue project may not end the pirate scourge on Nigeria’s waters as was widely believed.
Captain Oniyi, who is the General Secretary of the Merchant Seafarers Association of Nigeria, did not apparently share the infectious enthusiasm and belief of stakeholders that the multi-billion dollars assets of the deep blue project, recently deployed,  could end piracy in Nigeria.
Speaking in Lagos,  the Master Mariner believed that as long as the thousands of Seafarers who were trained under the National Seafarers Development Programme ( NSDP) of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) remained unemployed, the issue of piracy will continue to linger.
He claimed that NIMASA  only succeeded in training professional sea pirates by refusing to provide job opportunities for certified seafarers.

“Piracy and insecurity on our waters are created by NIMASA themselves.

” When you train professionals and you don’t give them jobs, you have tactically trained sea pirates. Every trained and certified seafarer is a potential sea pirate.

“Being a seafarer is a professional job. It is either you use your skill illegally or legally. I don’t see the Deep Blue Assets as the solution to the problem on the ground.

sea pirates

“NIMASA is supposed to first look at the causes of insecurity in the system. But they are not looking at the causes and they want to solve problems.

“We all know that unemployment is a major reason why we have an increase in insecurity in the maritime system.

“Instead of you creating jobs,  you are using the money to invest in one Deep Blue Project, buying fighter jets and you think it will work?

.”You are only going to use the equipment to fight the unemployed seafarers that you turned to sea pirates because you made them unemployed,” Captain Oniye said.
Reacting to the high level of professionalism displayed by sea pirates on Nigerian waters, Oniye said only trained pirates can have the impetus to successfully track and hijack a vessel and its entire crew without being apprehended.
He said many of the pirates are unemployed seafarers who are only trying to survive and make ends meet from the pathetic situation NIMASA has pushed them into.“NIMASA said they have trained close to 3,000 seafarers and they cannot even boast of giving 500 out of them jobs outside the country.

” The question is where are the remaining 2,500 seafarers and what are they doing?

” When you look at the way pirate operations are being carried out on our sea, then you will know that these guys are professionals to the core.
” They carry out their operations in a very professional way. Look at the way they operate. They don’t kill their victims. They kidnap them, you pay them and they release their victims. It is called survival.“How can you fight someone who knows how to track a ship? Someone who knows how to go underwater and burst pipes, someone who knows your vessel position.

“Is that the person you want to use your fighter jet to fight? I don’t see the solution being provided by NIMASA as the ultimate solution to the problem on the ground.

” Let them create jobs for unemployed seafarers and you will see if the insecurity will not reduce” Oniye noted.

As a better panacea to fighting piracy, the security expert however charged NIMASA to create job opportunities for certified seafarers and create enabling environments in the country for foreign shipbuilding companies in order to make the Cabotage Act work effectively.

“Use the money you are spending on these assets to create jobs for seafarers. The Cabotage Act says vessels must be built in the country, manned, owned, and crewed by Nigerians.

“NIMASA should create an enabling environment for these foreign companies to come to Nigeria and start building vessels.

” Even the Nigeria-owned vessels are not even getting jobs because foreign vessels are taking over their jobs” Oniye declared.

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Danish court returns guilty verdict on Nigerian pirate —- remands him in prison

The Eyewitness reporter

A Danish court on Monday found a Nigerian guilty of endangering the lives of Danish military personnel in a shooting incident last November involving Denmark’s navy and a crew of suspected Nigerian pirates in the Gulf of Guinea.

However, the court declined to sentence the Nigerian, Lucky Frances, 40, despite a call from the prosecutor for a prison sentence of 12 to 15 months.

As part of international anti-piracy efforts, Denmark deployed a frigate to the Gulf of Guinea in October last year.

The following month, it intervened in an alleged attack on a commercial vessel, killing four pirates and capturing four other suspects.

“The court emphasized that the 40-year-old Nigeria, together with the other perpetrators, fulfilled all the signs of piracy and had to be described as a pirate group,” Copenhagen city court said in a statement.

Frances, who was injured during a firefight with Danish navy personnel in the November clash, was taken to Denmark for prosecution in January after being treated at a hospital in Ghana.

 Danish authorities deemed it unsafe to release him in Ghana. His leg was amputated as a result of his injuries.

Frances was exempted from any legal consequences due to his medical condition and the fact that charges against the other three suspected pirates had been dropped, his lawyer Jesper Storm Thygesen told Reuters.

Charges against the three other suspected Nigerian pirates were dropped in January after Denmark failed to find a country in the region to take them.

They were released from detention on the frigate and put to sea in a small dinghy in the Gulf of Guinea.

Frances will remain in custody until both sides have decided whether to appeal against the verdict, Thygesen said.

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Possession of NIN by passengers now requirement for boarding trains—Sambo


— as government shifts resumption of Abuja-Kaduna rail services to December
The Eyewitness reporter
As part of the multi-layer security measures put in place on the troubled Abuja-Kaduna train route, the federal government has announced that no passenger will be allowed to buy tickets for train services without a National Identification Number (NIN).
In addition, no minor will be allowed onboard unless registered by an adult with a NIN who cannot register more than four minors per trip.
Reviewing the security measures put in place ahead of the resumption of the Abuja-Kaduna train route, the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, said these and other security initiatives which the government has taken are necessary to forestall the reoccurrence of the sad event which occurred on March 28th, 2022 on the route when the train was derailed by insurgents who killed and kidnapped passengers.
The minister, who on Sunday at Kaduna expressed satisfaction over the level of security measures in place, also said the steps taken so far will also stop ticket racketeering which has been the order of the day among the railway staff on the route.
The Minister also expressed confidence that the measures put in place are adequate enough for the train service to commence.” There is sensitive equipment that we have deployed that I will not reveal. The other thing I can tell you is that for every journey, the train is monitored every second on the screen.

” The train driver can see from a distance if there are any threats on the tracts that will enable him to match the break long before getting to the threat, and that is why I am telling you confidently,” said the Minister.

The Minister debunked the rumour that train services will resume on Monday, adding that the newly introduced measures will delay the resumption of business along the corridor for a few more days for passengers to get acquainted with the new protocol involved in train boarding before it will resume services.

“We have not said that train services will start tomorrow. I want to be very categorical about that.

“Now, we have introduced a new system before you buy a ticket. The purchase of a ticket requires you to provide a phone number and a national identification number in order to profile you because that is the beginning of the security checks. So at any point in time when a train moves from one station to another, we know who and who are on board.

“If you don’t have a NIN you are not going to board our train, it is as simple as that. If you are a minor, an adult will register for you and an adult can only register for not more than four minors.

“Now, we want to give sufficient time for the Nigerian public to listen to these two requirements, to assimilate this new system.

“So if you go and start tomorrow, a lot of people will be disgruntled. Why didn’t they tell us that this is a new way of doing it? Why didn’t they give us adequate time to do it? So we want to give you adequate time. Definitely between 3,4,5 days, certainly not more than a week.

Sambo assured Nigerians that a smooth and secured train ride is guaranteed while noting that the trains will not travel at night for now, while there is also going to be a review in train fares.

“I can assure you that we are a compassionate government and will consider the masses in the review of the train fare.”

We are not going to tell you what we have done. It is a security matter and I have no apologies for that.

“We’ll be monitoring it on a daily basis and improve on wherever we find some snags”.

“The ticketing called e-ticketing has already been contracted to a company, called secure ID. That concession has gone through the entire concession process under extant laws, including approval by the Federal Executive Council. So that concession remains in place for the duration of the concession period, which I think is 10 years”.

Sambo said that although only God can guarantee maximum security, he assured Nigerians that everything is in place to guarantee a secured and smooth train ride.

“We are not going to tell you what we have done. It is a security matter and I have no apologies for that.

“We’ll be monitoring it on a daily basis and improve on wherever we find some snacks”.

The Minister assured that Secured ID would continue to handle the e-ticketing services.

“The ticketing called e-ticketing has already been contracted to a company called secure ID. That concession has gone through the entire concession process under extant laws, including approval by the Federal Executive Council. So that concession remains in place for the duration of the concession period, which I think is 10 years”.

The Minister was accompanied by the Minster of State for Transportation, Ademola Adegoroye; Minister of Water Resources Eng. Suleiman Adamu; Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation Fidet Okhiria; Chairman Governing Board Nigeria Railway Corporation Ibrahim Musa.

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As Nigerdock recants operational breaches, FG may lift suspension on the facility

The Eyewitness reporter
The Federal Government has expressed its readiness to lift the suspension order on Nigerdock following its willingness to abide by the rules and its contributions to the growth of the National economy.
The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, stated this recently when he visited the firm in Lagos in the company of the Minister of State for Transportation, Prince Ademola Adegoroye and some Management Staff of the Ministry.
Addressing the Chief Executive Officer, Nigerdock, Maher Jarmakani and other officials of the company, the Minister pointed out that the reason why they were suspended was as a result of complaints from other Terminal Operators, saying Nigerdock had operating advantages over them.
“What led to your suspension was that I received complaints from Terminal Operators, saying that you are not on the same level with them. In the sense that they pay more to the government than you do. You’re likely to attract freight at a much lower cost to the detriment of businesses”,  the Minister disclosed.
He, therefore, urged them to liaise with Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to work out all the operational licenses needed to enable them to operate and the latter will forward the same to the Minister of Transportation whose prerogative it is to give approvals.
Speaking further, the Minister said: “We will never do anything to undermine the things you are doing here in terms of generating wealth and jobs for Nigerians.  The only thing we are saying is that the law should be followed. We should not encourage lawlessness “.
Responding, the CEO, Nigerdock, Maher Jarmakani, said the firm has taken notable steps in this regard as they have been granted bonded permits by the Nigerian Customs and they are currently working with Nigerian Ports Authority to ensure all processes of getting the needed approvals are followed accordingly.
“We are seeking your support Honourable Minister and that is why we wrote a letter of appeal for your guidance and your support to see that we have followed all processes and procedures” Jarmakani stated.
Furthermore, Jarmakani informed the Minister that in the 30 years of its existence, Nigerdock has employed more Nigerians than its peers, assuring that the company will not undermine the country’s extant rules and regulations.
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