Despite the emergence of the new Anti-piracy law and the state-of-the-art security apparatus acquired by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), there are indications that Nigeria’s war against sea pirates has just begun.
This is coming on the heels of the first set of suspected pirates to be tried with the new Anti-piracy law this week.
An award winning investigative journalist, Mr. Emmanuel Mayah made this assertion at the weekend during an interview with Maritime TV.
According to Mayah, the true state of policing Nigerian territorial waters can only be said to be effective when Nigerian oil is no longer traded at the Togo triangle.
His words: “Togo triangle is a phenomenon because people didn’t know about it. It is a body of water triangulated by three countries; Nigeria, Benin Republic and Togo. This is an open illegal market where ships come from Ukraine, Russia, South Africa and other countries. Some are not so driven to come to the Niger Delta but they assure those in the Niger-Delta that they would buy their crude if they can bring it to the Togo triangle”
“Security agencies are compromised in Nigeria and other countries involved in this trade, so they turn a blind eye. However, Nigeria has the highest stake because it is the nation’s oil that is being stolen and traded in the Togo triangle.”
However, he called on the federal government to intensify efforts to curb the oil theft leading to booming business in the Togo triangle, lamenting that the nation’s resources are being fleeced via organized crime.
“Since oil is the major revenue earner for the nation and the maritime sector is close with Customs generating N1trillion and other aspects of Maritime contributing colossal sums; the government has to protect the cash cow of the economy,” he said.
Mayah stressed that there are many underreported stories in the maritime sector especially on organized crime because people don’t look beyond the surface.
“There is a rising influx of drugs and arms and it happens because of State support. Neighbouring countries including Cameroon, Benin Republic and Togo are undermining the sovereignty of Nigeria. Look at the Benin port, it thrives on transshipment. The country has no business transshipping cargoes to a country that has almost eight seaports. The attraction of Nigeria importers was also caught because of the ease of doing business in Benin,” he said.
He also noted that Togo and Benin look at Nigeria’s import prohibition list and allow Nigeria’s prohibited items enter their countries just to boost trade.
“I can’t imagine the USA prohibits something and Canada allows it with the final destination as US. The US wouldn’t accept such practice. Smuggling is a huge revenue earner for Benin and Togolese government. They allow rice, used clothing and cars because they are targeting Nigerian markets. Organised crime groups have taken advantage of porous Benin and Togo to bring arms and drugs to Nigeria via these countries,” he lamented.