The Director-General and Commandant of the Merchant Navy Corps, Allen Benson Edema, has expressed concern over the continuous occurrence of crude oil theft in Nigeria. He emphasized that the 10th National Assembly’s failure to pass the Nigerian Merchant Navy Coast Guard Security and Safety Corps establishment bill would perpetuate this issue. In an interview with journalists in Abuja on Monday, Edema highlighted the repeated rejection of the proposed law in both chambers of the 8th National Assembly.
To address this pressing issue, the Nigerian Merchant Navy Coast Guard Security and Safety Corps has put forward plans for the acquisition of 10 Merchant Ships and 45 Fishing Trawlers ships from the Philippines, along with other necessary equipment from Holland. These resources are essential for the effective operation of the corps within Nigeria.
The bill for the establishment of the Nigerian Merchant Navy Coast Guard Security and Safety Corps was initially introduced during the 8th Senate by the former Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege. However, due to incomplete legislative activities, the bill has not yet been passed. The proposed legislation aims to create the Coast Guard Corps, headed by a Director General who will also serve as the Commandant and Chief Executive Officer. The appointment of the Director General will be subject to the confirmation of the Senate, ensuring transparency and accountability.
The board of the corps will consist of representatives from various key entities, including the Federal ministries of Transportation, Environment, Finance, Health, and Defence. Additionally, the Nautical College of Nigeria, Nigeria Ports Authority, Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority, and the Oil and Gas producing companies in Nigeria will be represented. This diverse composition will foster collaboration and coordination among relevant stakeholders.
The Nigerian Merchant Navy Coast Guard Security and Safety Corps, once established, will play a crucial role in safeguarding the Nigerian territorial waters. They will actively monitor and protect against pollution during ship building and construction of maritime facilities. The corps will also address threats posed by dumping, toxic waste, and other harmful elements that endanger human and marine life. Furthermore, their responsibilities include monitoring and controlling government and commercial transport boats and ensuring the safety of maritime operations both offshore and onshore.