The Minister of Transportation, Honorable Rotimi Amaechi confirmed yesterday the suspension of the Secure Anchorage Area(SAA) contract operated by Ocean Marine Services Limited (OMSL).

Amaechi said the reason for the suspension is because the operation of the Secure Anchorage Area Contract is illegal and does not conform with the Nigerian constitution.

He made this known while speaking to the press after a closed door meeting with top shipping security agencies on the Deep Blue Project with the Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC).

During the press briefing, he said paying, Ocean Marine Services Limited (OMSL) for private security at the port is wrong and should be stopped. He said: “I took the decision to terminate the contract because there is nowhere in the world where private individuals protect a nation. The Secure Anchorage contract shows that there is systemic failure of our maritime security in Nigeria and it is a problem that must be corrected.”

He also revealed that it was his decision and not the decision of the Nigerian Port Authority to terminate the contract. “I have ordered the Nigerian Ports Authority(NPA) to write to all involved parties. We must understand that it is the responsibility of the government to protect both persons and investors. If I allow this to continue then I have failed.”

The Minister also said stakeholders were beginning to raise concern on the state of security in the maritime sector and its effect on businesses. He said the upsurge in the maritime sector called for immediate attention and the Federal Government is on top of it.

Responding to questions about the number of maritime security assets available in the country, Director General, NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside said “The first phase of equipment comprising six Interceptor Boats, one Special Mission Boat, six armored vehicles, as well as arms and ammunition have arrived Nigeria.”

Dakuku continued: “A second Special Mission Vessel will arrive the country in February, while an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) will arrive before the end of February.  Also, a Special Mission Aircraft will be in the country before the end of the first quarter this year. We are expecting the helicopter before the end of the first quarter.”

“Almost all the communication equipment are in the country already and the Command, Control, Computer Communication and intelligence (C4I) center is fully operational in Kirikiri”, he also added.

He assured that between now and June, 80 per cent of the gadgets will be in the country and will be manned by the Nigerian military.

Amaechi stated that the operations will be in the community and not on the water “those that perpetuate evil live among us and not in the water. When you arrest them there will be nobody going to the waters and you’re going to save the country a lot of money”, he therefore called for cooperation and advised that Nigerians shun all forms of tribalism.

In addition, he said that once the security architecture is upgraded, the menace of oil bunkering will be tackled headlong and gradually phased out.