Ahead of Polls, Experts Push for Tighter Seaports Security

The 119th edition of the Lagos maritime security zone Ports Facility Security Officers (PSFO) Forum meeting rose in Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria last week, with security experts pressing for adequate strategies and contingency plans to be put in place to counter attack on seaport facilities by criminals ahead of this Saturday’s Presidential and National Assembly elections.

They say strategies must also be designed to contain cases of arson, fire, burglary and other disruptive activities that occur during national emergencies as experience shows that undesirable elements within the port vicinity always target the facilities at such times.

As part of their resolutions, the forum also advised port facilities to put in place effective planning in this regard because human life and valued assets are involved. This is necessary as anti-social elements are allegedly waiting in the wings are ever ready to capitalise on any national emergency to strike and overrun the facilities.

Thus, maritime facility security officers must be proactive and carry their respective managements along concerning approvals and provisions for adequate resources to safeguard valuable assets before, during and after elections.

Chairman of the Forum, Dr Ignatius Uche, said security has gone beyond mere ‘opening and closing of gates’ to being an essential part of boardroom processes and decisions. As series of threats and postulations on security issues are being made as the 2019 general elections approach, he stated, maritime facilities and organisations must assess upfront how much these are going to impact on their operations and devise measures to counter them. For the facilities and organisations, achieving anything in the year is heavily dependent on the elections and the outcome, he contended.

He announced that as part of thier projections on achievable goals in 2019, the forum’s long-standing advocacy to spread out to other countries and become a regional body had been adopted. In this regard, a presentation has been made to the ECOWAS Commission for a regional PFSO for West Africa. ‘’What remains now is to give it teeth and make it operational.’’

The meeting equally resolved on ensuring that the Forum’s platform no longer accommodates any information or views not in consonance with maritime security. The Forum’s platform should be a solutions-providing centre individual facilities could access to get ideas on how best to resolve maritime-related issues that may bother them.

Data collection of assorted incidences in various facilities should be collated and provisions made for these to be used as reference points in solving challenges that could confront others in other places even beyond Nigeria since maritime occurrences and hazards are not limited to countries. For instance, owing to geographical contiguity, a maritime experience in Nigeria has the tendency of being replicated in all maritime nations in the West African subregion.

The Forum harped on the need for ports security officers to be more careful and circumspect on information management considering the growing incidences of cyber attack in the maritime space.Ports security officers must be proactive enough and provide personnel and other resources ahead of the ‘bad guys’ to counter their evil plans on the facilities.

Going forward in 2019, more interface and collaboration should exist between one terminal and the other, the Forum stressed.


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