The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, has disclosed that Nigeria loses about N7 trillion annually to insecurity and revenue leakages in her waterways.
Dogara 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 this in Abuja, during an interactive session with the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ibas and management of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) during a public hearing on a bill for exclusive economic zone, create the maritime security fund, establish anti-piracy offences and for other related matters as well as a Bill for an Act to amend the Maritime Operations Coordinating Board Act, 2004.
"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.
"If we are to make any progress in this regard, we must as a matter of urgency and necessity, pass laws that will address insecurity in the sector especially piracy. The International Maritime Bureau, Oceans Beyond Piracy and the Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Program all reported in 2012 that the number of vessels attacked in the West African sub-region for which the Gulf of Guinea belongs had reached a world record high with about 1,000 seafarers attacked in that year alone. This is said to be second only to attacks in South-East Asia.
"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," the Speaker stressed.
Vice Admiral IE Ibas, Chief of Naval Staff on Monday confirmed the recovery of over N420 billion or $1.17 billion stolen oil in 2016 alone. This is aside stolen oil worth N6,757,551,140.20 or $18,770,975.39 destroyed in various illegal refineries between January and June 2017.