A number of security providers have been forced to suspend operations in Nigeria following the implementation of new laws governing the private maritime security sector
The implementation of new laws governing the activities of the maritime security sector in Nigeria has forced a number of security providers to suspend their operations in the country.
Although precise legislation governing the sector’s activities has been in place for many years, the decision to further regulate the maritime security industry reflects the country’s anger over the flaunting of laws.
The new laws were drafted and approved with the express intention of closing the loopholes previously used by non-legal contractors to supply services in Nigeria. The Nigerian authorities consider as non-legal any company that is supplying services in Nigeria without the appropriate licenses.
Operating licenses are only issued to wholly Nigerian owned and managed companies that are registered in the country. The application process involves a series of ministries and authorities and, given the audits and controls that have to be conducted, can take a considerable amount of time.
According to one government official speaking on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media: “We know perfectly well who the companies offering services illegally are and we will not allow them to continue one day more .”
The Maritime Security Review has been told that the total number of companies that can legally operate and supply maritime security services in Nigeria is less than ten.
“This is a new form of collaboration from which everyone will benefit. We will no longer work with the companies as suppliers but as partners.”
The official explained that a number of considerations had led to the decision that the most efficient form of collaboration with the private sector was partnerships.
“We now consider each company as a partner and we have signed Memorandum of Understandings to this effect with all of the licenced companies.” The source added that: “This is a very positive step forward and it will bring with it a whole new scenario. Our support to the private sector will improve and the final service to the end client will improve.”
Our source explained that the partnership initiative is based upon licenced, audited and approved companies entering into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nigerian Navy.
The Maritime Security Review has been able to independently verify that there are only a small number of companies who have signed Memorandums with the Navy. Legal considerations do not allow us to divulge any details of the companies in question.
The issue of further regulation has been discussed considerably over the past few months with a number of members of the maritime security industry expressing doubts and concerns. While the partnership program is certain to remain the subject of debate, the fact that it has been fully adopted and implemented without any ‘period of grace’ is a game changer to the CSO’s charged with organising a ship owner, charterer or operator’s security.
The cost of entering into a contractual agreement with a non-legal security supplier could be much higher than imagined. In the case of employing the services of a company that is not part of the official partnership program, a vessel risks being seized, the crew detained and heavy fines imposed. In certain cases a ban on entering Nigerian ports could be imposed.
As reported by the Maritime Security Review last month (see: Heavy Regulation Ahead), in addition to the Nigerian Navy, the Nigerian Port Authorities are eager to verify full respect for the new laws.
The practice of ‘piggybacking’- a non-legal form of sub-contracting, will not be tolerated. Security contracts will now have to be stipulated directly with license holders and all security personnel must be in the direct employ of the contracting party.
The Maritime Security Review will continue to monitor developments and publish further details.
Precise indications to CSOs as regards due diligence on potential security suppliers will be published over the next few days.