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Private sector to protect Nig. waters – NA

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By Mercy Kelani

The Nigerian Navy is tasked with safeguarding Nigeria's maritime borders.

In the latest reports, it has been revealed that certain individuals in the National Assembly are considering making changes to current laws to allow for private security firms to play a role in protecting Nigeria’s waters. The Nigerian military operates under the legal framework provided by the Armed Forces Act, which defines the duties and functions of the Nigerian Navy in safeguarding Nigeria’s maritime borders. Tasked with additional responsibilities, the Navy is specifically assigned to carry out some duties.

These duties include administering and facilitating the implementation of all maritime regulations, including those regarding anti-bunkering, fisheries, and immigration, in Nigerian waters; ensuring compliance with national and international maritime laws adopted or agreed upon by Nigeria, and providing support in the coordination of enforcement efforts; organizing and overseeing the compilation of charts for all national hydrographic surveys; and ensuring compliance with safety regulations in Nigeria’s territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone through coordination and enforcement.

Nigerian Navy does not practice any form of monopoly.

More so, the Nigerian Navy plays a vital role in coordinating activities within the maritime environment of Nigeria, showcasing strong emphasis on its coordinating function. This function relies on the collaboration of various Government agencies to operate effectively. The 2016 document titled Harmonized Standard Operating Procedures on Arrests, Detention, and Prosecution of Vessels and Persons in Nigeria’s Maritime Environment lists several federal government agencies with responsibilities in the maritime sector, such as the Nigerian Armed Forces, Nigeria Police Force, National Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigeria Customs Service, NIMASA, NPA, NAPTIP, NIS, NESREA, NOSDRA, EFCC, and many others.

Also, the Nigerian Navy plays a crucial and central role, acting as a leader and coordinator rather than holding a monopoly as claimed by some critics. Any suggestions that the Navy’s supposed monopoly should be dismantled are unfounded and deceitful. It is crucial to note that no branch of the Nigerian government is considering integrating private security organizations into the country’s security framework, regardless of the sector they operate in. No nation alters its legislation to grant private entities authority equivalent to that of its official military forces.

This sector’s role should remain as secondary support.

Furthermore, private players can certainly play a role in supporting functions, but the decision-making power lies with government officials who can handle such matters as needed. There is no necessity to change a country’s laws or constitution in order to allow for this. Nigeria’s government has enlisted private companies to aid in combating crude oil theft by monitoring and overseeing pipelines. These companies collaborate with the Nigerian Navy and law enforcement agencies, contributing to successful security operations and yielding favourable outcomes.

Implementing private companies into Nigeria’s maritime security framework is like hiring working soldiers to carry out the tasks of the Nigerian armed forces. Their role should remain as secondary support, as is the norm in most countries where Navies are responsible for protecting offshore waters. This should also be the case in Nigeria. This serves as a clear message to the National Assembly’s leadership, urging them to reject any efforts to advance a harmful agenda within the Assembly’s sacred halls.

Related Article: Confidence in Nig. Waterways Restored

Additionally, as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces in Nigeria, it is imperative for Bola Tinubu to protect the reputation of the Armed Forces and maintain a strong legacy by opposing any legislation that seeks to permit mercenary activities or private security groups within Nigeria’s security system. Utilizing private security services to monitor oil infrastructure within the vast Niger Delta region is the most effective approach. Enhancements should be made to further streamline and enhance the efficiency of this current setup.

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