A civil society group, Niger Delta Youth Coalition, NDYC, has alerted the Presidency of a grand design by a UK-based marine security company in league with local collaborators to extort heavily from foreign shipowners whose vessels ply the Nigerian waterways.
In a letter of concern signed by the president of the group, Comrade Ebipade Jackson and secretary, Comrade Tony Gbemudu addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, the group alleged that unwholesome activities was being perpetrated in various ports along the approaches to the Bonny Channel by the foreign company, Daimon Group Limited, with offices located in Exeter in the United Kingdom.
The NDYC claimed that Daimon is aided by an indigenous marine services provider based in Calabar, Cross River State with the assistance of some navy personnel.
The group revealed that the foreign company has been putting out announcements internationally claiming to have established a Safe Anchorage Area along the Bonny Channel designed to provide protection for vessels whilst at anchorage.
The move, the youth group said, is designed to charge huge illegal fees from foreign ship owners “to whom they portray our ports and the country as a war zone and paint a horrible picture of piracy, kidnapping and all manner of crimes in the nation’s water-ways to raise alarm and extort from them.”
The civil society group further revealed that “all manner of illegal activities are being carried out at the so called safe anchorage area located at about 12 nautical miles west of Bonny Fairway Buoy at 04 15 35 N / 006 47 30E, around 12 nautical miles from the coastline. The BSA is said to be 1.5 NM in diameter with an additional 3 NM Maritime Exclusion Zone (MEZ) enforced around the main BSA, and served by a Mother ship.
“These activities include theft of crude oil and refined petroleum products, and we are concerned that the Chief of Naval Staff may not be aware of these illegal activities given his pedigree and transparent track record, even as Daimon Group and their collaborators are said to be currently extorting foreign ship owners visiting Bonny Port on the pretext of working with the Nigerian Navy in the so-called designated safe areas.”
The group urged the president to immediately dismantle the illegal safe anchorage and institute investigation into the activities of both Daimon Group and its local collaborators as well as “trace the source of their illegal wealth and unravel how they have been able to purchase their vessels, as well as who in the navy is working with them in perpetrating this illegality and undermining the security of Nigeria by engaging in illegal bunkering.”