The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, is set to test the new anti-piracy law with the intercepted Chinese fishing vessel Hailufeng 11 where about ten pirates who hijacked the vessel were arrested. The vessel had been licensed to fish in Côte d’Ivoire.
Vanguard Maritime Report gathered that the arrested persons are presently in Police custody in Apapa, Lagos. collaboration between the Nigerian Navy and NIMASA resulted in the interception of the vessel. Recall that President, Muhammadu Buhari had, last year, signed the Anti Piracy Bill into law which seeks to prosecute anyone caught in maritime crime.
The fishing trawler was taken by pirates on Thursday, May 14 in the Ivorian exclusive economic zone with 18 crew-members aboard, eight Chinese, seven Ivorians and three Ghanaians.
However, through rapid and engaged cooperation among a number of different African states and institutions, the vessel was tracked, and the Nigerian Navy was able to interdict it 140 nautical miles south of the Lagos Fairway Buoy at about 2210 local time on the night of May 16. The dramatic rescue was hugely successful, as all 18 hostages were recovered, 10 pirates were arrested, and the vessel was safely escorted into Lagos.
Speaking at the handing over of the criminals, Director-General of the NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, attributed the successful operation that led to the arrest of the pirates and rescue of the ship and its crew to collaboration between the NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy.
He said the Agency will continue to work with relevant security agencies in order to achieve its goal of eradicating piracy and all forms of illegality on the Nigerian waters.
Jamoh stated: “We have just witnessed the handover of pirates. This is as a result of the robust collaboration between NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy. There has been a lot of synergy between NIMASA and the Navy with regard to the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act. I also want to seize the opportunity to thank Mr. President for signing the anti-piracy law, which would facilitate sufficient prosecution of these pirates.”
Jamoh, who was represented by the Agency’s Head of Legal Services, Mr. Victor Egejuru, assured that with the anti-piracy law, there was ample legal framework to prosecute pirates and other perpetrators of maritime offences in the country to bring the menace to the barest minimum.
He stressed the need for increased regional cooperation and information sharing, disclosing that the arrest of the pirates was due to a tip-off by the Beninoise Navy. Shettima warned criminal elements to stay away from Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea, saying the Navy has the capability to deal with such threats.
He added that the current management of NIMASA will focus on three main areas, namely, Maritime Security, Safety, and Shipping Development, in pursuit of a robust maritime domain for the country.
The alert about the attack was raised and disseminated by local authorities. The coordination was provided by the Yaoundé Architecture for Maritime Security, without the involvement of foreign navies. Oil was not the focus of the attack; with Nigeria having new legislation and procedures which may help produce a successful legal as well as operational finish.
Even before the owners of the vessel and Chinese government officials began notifying local authorities in a variety of African states that they believed the Hailufeng 11 had been attacked, the Vessel Monitoring System in Côte d’Ivoire’s Fisheries Ministry had triggered an alert.