BY VICTOR BUORO, ABUJA – Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, says that Nigeria loses about N7 trillion annually to insecurity and revenue leakages in her waterways.
He also posited that security in Nigeria’s territorial waters must be strengthened, with the Nigerian Navy and other relevant agencies collaborating to stem the tide of piracy and other attacks, while the parliament seeks ways to secure its territorial waters.
Dogara stated these on Monday at a public hearing on a Bill for an Act to amend the Maritime Operations Coordinating Board Act, reconstituting the Maritime Operations Co-coordinating Board for effective control of all maritime operations in Nigeria’s territorial waters and the Exclusive Economic Zone, create the Maritime Security Fund and establish anti-piracy offences.
According to him; “It is even more worrisome to note that Nigeria is said to be losing about N7 trillion annually in the Maritime sector due to among other reasons, leakages in revenue generation and insecurity in the water ways.
“Between January and March 2016, several attacks were reported off Nigeria’s coast. This was said to involve pirates stealing cargoes of crude oil and petroleum products. Reports had it that, no fewer than 44 ship crew members were abducted. In the first half of this year, about over 20 commercial vessels were attacked in Nigerian waters. The increasing level of attacks and violence in the Gulf of Guinea have given Nigeria and other countries in the sub-region very damaging and negative image in addition to an estimated monthly loss of $1.5 billion to the country.
“As I said recently, prevalence of insecurity in our waters resulted in the loss of $1.3 billion annually to illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing in West Africa alone yearly. We must tighten the legal and regulatory framework to stop these losses. The only way to promote intra- African trade in our water ways is to ensure safety and security of navigation in our waters.
“What is disturbing is that pirate attacks in West Africa are said to be occurring in our territorial waters, terminals and harbors and not in the high seas which effectively stopped intervention by international naval forces.
“Thus, the onus is on the Nigerian Navy to stem the tide and secure our territorial waters, in cooperation with other agencies of government. However, in the absence of enabling laws that stipulate stiff penalties and adequate funding, the Navy may not be able to perform this responsibility effectively and efficiently,” he stated.