A breakdown showed that $800 million is lost to poaching, $9 billion to piracy and $15.5 billion to oil theft.
The rate of pollution of the waters from Lagos to the oil-producing Southsouth is also high.
Speaking with The Nation after presenting a paper on the Legality of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and its Protocols on the partnership between Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Air Force, Matthew Egbadon, a former staff of NIMASA said the amount the country is losing is huge. He called for the sharing of information by the security agencies to stem criminalities on the waters and make it safe.
He raised the alarm that over 70 per cent of about eight million illegal arms and ammunition in West Africa are in Nigeria. He urged the government to pay attention to policing of the waters because of the huge number of arms and ammunition in circulation.
Egbadon urged security agencies to collaborate to stem the tide.
Investigations, however, revealed that while NIMASA is collaborating with other government agencies to end criminalities on the waters, the agency is seriously handicapped when it comes to the issue of pollution.
NIMASA, it was learnt, has the responsibility to stop dumping of wastes in the water and its pollution; illegal bunkering; human trafficking; illegal fishing; oil-theft; pipeline vandalism; smuggling of small arms and ammunition; piracy and armed robbery at the sea among others.
NIMASA’s Director-General Patrick Akpobolokemi has vowed to fight piracy, prevent and mitigate the effects of pollution, develop human capacity and ensure safety of vessels. All these, he said, are geared toward the growth and development of the maritime sector.
Akpobolokemi also said NIMASA as the maritime regulatory agency owes the international community the obligation to ensure the safety of their vessels, crew and cargoes in order to foster trade between Nigeria and the rest of the world.
The NIMASA boss noted that the importance of the security agencies to the development of the nation’s maritime sector and thanked them for their cooporation.
He commended the officers and men of the Nigerian Navy and Air Force for their efforts in combating piracy and pledged the agency’s support and partnership to help them effectively carry out , its day-to-day operations.
“Piracy is capable of crippling the nation’s economy. Since shipping largely contributes to the growth of any economy, the economy cannot thrive where piracy activities are carried out,” he said.
He said he was happy that the management of the Nigerian Navy, has created the Central Naval Command. He noted that it would help to checkmate all forms of illegalities in the maritime domain.