By Lucy Ogalue
Mrs Margaret Onyema-Orakwusi, Chairman, Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) says curtailing poaching in Nigeria and the African Continent will require international collaboration.
Onyema-Orakwusi said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Abuja.
According to her, the international community has the market and capability to effectively monitor all activities that take place in the waterways.
She said: “I have always said this, any crime that takes place out there in the sea, the planning is done ashore; they go there, execute and come ashore with their bounty.
“So, with good intelligence, right from ashore, you can arrest what goes on there. You can also trace the movement of the fund through financial institutions.
“We are underplaying the activities of the financial institutions especially the international banks because that is where the poachers find markets for their products, which shouldn’t be.
“The poachers have easy market in Asia, in Europe and in America and they pass their money through their financial institutions.
“Some of us who export, we know that for your payment to be received through the bank, you need to furnish documentation to show how you earned that money.
“So seriously speaking, if we really want to arrest the issue of poaching in Africa, we need the cooperation of Europe, Asia and America.
“This is because it is easy for them to monitor these things. Also, sanctions should be placed on the financial institutions and on the big buyers.”
Onyema-Orakwusi however, urged the federal government to deploy relevant personnel to adequately monitor the territorial waters to ensure security of the waterways.
She also urged the government to be at the fore of all the partnerships going into the sector to ensure that its full benefits were maximised.
“We need to secure our domain; we need to tap on the resources; we need to let it provide employment and earn foreign exchange, it is our own.
“We have also recognised how difficult it is to fight international organised crime and that is why it is important that all hands must be on deck,” she said.
The SOAN boss expressed optimism that the recently concluded Global Maritime Security conference would ensure a more secured environment in the country’s maritime sector.
She reiterated the importance of safety to enable the country harness all available resources, to engender growth and development of Nigeria and the continent at large.
On indigenous criminal activities in the country’s maritime domain, Onyema-Orakwusi said resolving it was beyond the amnesty programme.
According to her, rather than give fish to the people, it is important to teach them how to fish so they can be useful to themselves, their family and the nation.
“I believe that hunger can drive an innocent man to steal in order to eat.
“If you look at the Niger Delta area, you will find out that a lot has happened, a lot is still happening and people’s livelihood have been taken from them.
“The environment has been abused; there is a lot of pollution which means you have taken from them what they are traditionally good in doing and that is farming and fishing.
“And what have we replaced with that. I have never been for the amnesty programme. We need to train these young boys and girls, find some other means for them to earn an income.
“So we really need to equip them more and create an environment for them to be able to earn income and improve on themselves,’’ she added.