By Chris Ndibe
The President, Nigerian Institute of Shipping (NIS), Capt. Tony Onoharigho, has urged Nigeria to re-engage the services of Global West Specialist Vessels (GWSV) in the fight against piracy.
Onogharigho stated this in a statement in Lagos and hinged the appeal on the recent acquittal of Chief Government Ekpemupolo and Capt. Enusoh Warredi of charges of corruption and seizure of their maritime security assets, including the surveillance and combat vessels, belonging to GWSV.
GWSV was contracted by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in 2012 under the former President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
The company and its operators were accused of embezzlement in 2015, while their assets, including vessels, were confiscated by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).
According to him, re-engaging will not only be a resounding political score for the present government, but one that will timely address the challenges of piracy and maritime insecurity.
“The deployment of GWSV was an impressive outing within the period it partnered the Federal Government to combat piracy and maritime insecurity.
“This will reassure the international shipping community and international oil companies that this government can deliver on its assurance for safety of foreign investments and international merchant shipping,” he said.
Onoharigho urged the EFCC to release the GWSV’s vessels it confiscated on the basis of the recent court judgment, which was in its favour.
“We thank God that Tompolo and Warredi have been acquitted of the charges of corruption filed against them.
“Global West was doing a very wonderful job in partnership with all the security agencies: EFCC, Navy, Marine Police and the Air Force. It was the best combination ever this country has put together to combat piracy and maritime insecurity.
“Now that they have been acquitted, my appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari is to re-engage Global West so that they can return to the sea, clean up the place and rid it of pirates.
“National security should not be politicized. It is a shame that Tompolo, who invested his money and his civilian partners like Warredi, were slammed with frivolous charges.
“Now that the court has acquitted them, Mr President should prevail on EFCC to release their seized vessels and platforms, and make them to return to sea.
“Global West was doing a great job by arresting sea robbers and pirates and bringing money for NIMASA.
“Working with Global West, Tompolo and his men will be one of the best political and security decisions the country will make,” he said.