The use of armed guards on merchant ships, according to Skuld Club, has been expressly prohibited by the Nigerian Navy’s Chief of Naval Staff since 6 June 2016. This has caused the Nigerian Navy to enter contractual relationships with private security companies which have been governed by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) since 2012 which was comprehensively revised in 2016 and again in 2019 and is soon to be revised again.
Risk Intelligence, Skuld continues, also advised that when contracting PMLSCs under the MoU for the provision of maritime security services, emphasis should be placed on:
Risk Intelligence also shared that on 26 February 2021, a meeting was held at the naval base in Lagos to discuss the situation related to the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA), which is no longer supported by the Nigerian Navy.
In addition, when the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) was disbanded there were security vessels contracted to protect individual vessels or clusters of vessels. The Nigerian Navy does not approve of this as it is creating an unofficial SAA.
Therefore, security or escort vessels are required to disengage upon arrival at the anchorage or the Nigerian Navy should be informed of their engagement at least 5 hours before arrival to obtain approval for any extended stay at/around the anchorage (up to a maximum of 24 hours).
The Nigerian Navy also stated that they will continue the embarkation of armed guards on vessels at the Lagos anchorage, but this is regularly re-evaluated.
As a result, shipowners contracting naval personnel as armed guards must depend only on verbal confirmation from the Nigerian Navy that the request has been approved. This means that such arrangements could be terminated at any point without warning.
Naval personnel that are provided as armed guards will also be tested for COVID-19 by the Nigerian Navy. The personnel will only be released after having tested negative.