The Secretary Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, has disclosed that the federal government is losing $6 billion annually to violent crimes in Nigerian territorial waters.

Mustapha made the disclosure in Lagos during the 2018 World Maritime Day celebration, adding that the federal government plans to invest in maritime security and local capacity development to curb criminal activities in Nigerian waters so as to get a sizeable chunk of the N$6 billion of the annual freight cost for the country.

He said that despite the achievements recorded in the maritime industry, the country has come under siege by criminal elements who perpetuates acts of piracy, arms proliferation, crude oil theft, as well as illegal and unregulated fishing in the Gulf of Guinea and within Nigeria’s territorial waters.

Mustapha, who was represented by the Minister of State for Works, Power and Housing, Baba Sheri stressed that the gains recorded by the many reforms in the maritime industry are erased due to increasing violent crimes in our waters.

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi in his address, stressed the importance of maritime industry to the economy, adding that shippers spends between $5 billion and $6 billion annually on freight cost, while the maritime component of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry is worth an estimated $8 billion alongside seabome transportation, oceanic extractive resource exploitation and export processing zones.

He said that for contribution of shipping activities to the development of Nigeria’s economy to be realized, there is urgent need to combat these illegal maritime activities in our waters as these crimes continue to constitute impediments to economic development.

“As long as these crimes continue to pose danger to the Gulf of Guinea and our maritime domain, the benefits of the theme of this year’s World Maritime Day celebration will continue to be elusive.

“The Federal Executive Council (FEC) recently approved the procurement of new security architecture for the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), which involves the acquisition of new platforms and other logistics required to enable the agency to perform its statutory functions of securing the Nigerian waters in conjunction with the Nigerian Navy.”

“The importance of ensuring a safe maritime domain cannot be overemphasized. A safe, secure and efficient shipping industry will surely revitalize and diversify the economy of Nigeria away from crude oil exploration to a maritime hub. Therefore, the promotion of sustainable shipping and sustainable maritime development as expressed in the theme of this year’s celebration will stimulate the development of new technologies and innovation, agile maritime security platforms and the development of the maritime infrastructure,” the minister explained.

He added that Nigeria as a member-state of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), a specialised United Nations (UN) Agency, is responsible for ensuring safety and security of shipping and protection of the marine environment.

“Initially, the IMO was restricted to safety related issues, but over the years, its mandate expanded to environmental considerations, legal matters, technical cooperation, maritime security and many other issues affecting the overall efficiency and effectiveness of shipping. Among the most recent achievements of the IMO is the adoption of the Initial Strategy on the reduction of Greenhouse Gas emissions from ships, which is a policy commitment targeted at completely phasing out the Greenhouse Gas emissions from ships in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

“Furthermore, the global sulphur limit, referred to as ”IMO 2020” specifies a reduction in the sulphur content of fuel oil used by ships. As a means of ensuring sustainable use of maritime resources for future purposes, the IMO encourages member states to ratify and domesticate legal instruments for uniform implementation and enforcements of its regulations and laws, “he said.