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FG scraps PICOMSS, puts port security under pressure

By The Citizen
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The Federal Government has scrapped the Presidential Implementation on Maritime Security and Safety (PICOMSS), following its refusal to merge with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

The development according to an official of Port Facility Security Officer (PFSO) forum, who spoke under anonymity,  will definitely impact negatively on the port security system.

Sources close to the PICOMSS said that it had to opt for the Committee to be scrapped because NIMASA's definition of security is a far cry from what it should be.

The source also stated that the late Former Security Adviser, General Patrick Azazi, was made to convince the President on the need to either merge PICOMMS with NIMASA or have scrapped.

It would be recalled both the NIMASA and PICOMSS have been at logger heads over who should be in control of the nation's water ways.

At a point, the international Oil Companies operating in Nigeria, were paying dues to PICOMSS for providing security services for their operations.

This move did not go down well with NIMASA who launched an onslaught on  the Committee and ensured that it was finally scrapped.

It will also be recalled that at a time both the Presidency and the Senate Committee on Marine Transport are at loggerheads over two separate maritime security bills that under went some legislative processes.

While the then Senator Gbemi Saraki-led Senate Marine Committee is pushing for the passage of the Coast Guard Bill, the Presidency is promoting the passage of a Maritime Security Agency, a department that would have  duplicated the function of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.

Sources close to the Marine Transport Committee said that the President requested that the National Assembly approves the setting up of a maritime security agency that will protect ships, oil facilities and ports in the Niger-Delta region.

It was learnt that the proposed agency is expected to have wide ranging powers, including superintending coastguard officials. The agency will have powers to inspect ships, arrest suspects and carry firearms within the Niger-Delta region.

According to Reuters, the new agency is also expected to provide security information on oil and gas pipelines, rigs, platforms and all other established installations

Sources confirmed that the security agency will be funded from a one per cent levy on annual profits from companies using Nigeria waterways.