NIMASA: Origin, Functions, Departments, and Criticisms


Meaning of NIMASA

NIMASA stands for Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, a government agency that is in charge of regulating shipping, maritime labour and coastal waters in Nigeria.

It is one of the most important agencies domiciled in the new Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy. The agency was formerly under the Federal Ministry of Transportation until the creation of the new ministry by President Bola Tinubu.


Origin of NIMASA

The military regime of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida established the National Maritime Authority (NMA), through the Shipping Policy Decree of May 11, 1987. The first DG of NMA was Bassey U. Ekong.

Then came onboard the Joint Maritime Labour Industrial Council (JOMALIC) in 2003. But the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in a move to restructure the maritime sector to be result-driven merged the National Maritime Authority (NMA) and Joint Maritime Labour Industrial Council (JOMALIC), which birthed the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency on August 1, 2006.

Barrister Mfon Usoro was appointed as the pioneer DG of NIMASA in August 2006 by Chief Obasanjo and to date the first and only woman to have headed the ‘controversial’ agency.

Therefore, NIMASA derives its legal power and functions from three Acts:

  1. Coastal and Inland Shipping (Cabotage) Act, 2003
  2. Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency Act, 2007
  3. Merchant Shipping Act, 2007

The Act establishing NIMASA states that 5 per cent of annual income would be allocated for supporting the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) while the development of maritime infrastructure would get 35 per cent.

Functions of NIMASA

Following the merger of NMA and JOMALIC, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety now has a broader role in the maritime sector. NIMASA mandates include:

1) Its core mandate is to primarily administer Maritime Safety Seafarers Standards and Security.

2) To implement shipping regulation as specified in the Act establishing it.

3) To undertake inspections and provide search and rescue services.

4) To implement International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions.

5) NIMASA also has it as a mandate to implement a domesticated International Maritime Organization (IMO).

6) To promote Commercial Shipping and Cabotage activities,

7) To monitor and prevent maritime pollution and spillage in Nigerian waterways.

8) To implement Maritime Labour in line with the International Labour Organization (ILO) in the maritime sector.

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9) To regulate and administer certificates to seafarers.

10) To undertake development, protection and manpower training in the shipping industry

11) To administer, issue, and regulate shipping licenses.

12) To adequately regulate shipping-related businesses, especially in the area of merchant shipping and seafarers.

13) To organize Maritime training and ensure maritime safety standards in Nigeria are met in accordance with global standard in line with IMO.

14) To provide cabotage services

15) To specify requirements for the issuance of cabotage waiver.

16) To collect, screen, verify, and register applications for ship registration.

17) To register and renew application for shipping company and shipping agent licence.

18) To provide array of services in the maritime sector, including navigation system, hydrographic services, survey and inspection, port state control, and flag state control among others.

Structure in Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency

The highest decision-making body in NIMASA is the Governing Board while the Managing Director and Director General manage the day-to-day administration of the agency.

The MD is assisted by three Executive Directors:

  1. Executive Director of Operations
  2. Executive Director of Finance and Administration
  3. Executive Director of Maritime Labour and Cabotage Services

Each of the executive directors has different departments under their supervision and coordination for the agency to deliver on its mandate. While the heads of the departments report to their EDs, who relay such to the DG, some heads of departments report directly to the Director-General.

Governing Board:

The governing board of NIMASA is made of:

  • Chairman,
  • DG of the agency,
  • Executive Director (Cabotage),
  • Executive Director (Admin & Finance),
  • Executive Director (Operations), and
  • Three other three persons, who are appointed by the President.


Here is a full list of departments under NIMASA:

  • Cabotage services department
  • Maritime labour services
  • Administration and human resources
  • Financial services
  • PR/Corporate Communication
  • Legal services department
  • Planning, research and data management services
  • Maritime safety and seafarers’ standard department
  • Shipping development department
  • Marine environment management
  • Procurement department

Other important units in the agency are:

  • Health and safety environment
  • ISPS unit
  • Internal audit unit
  • Nigerian Ship Registration Office
  • Protocol unit
  • Marine Accident Investigation unit
  • Servicom unit
  • Special duties
  • Maritime Guard Command
  • Deep Blue project unit
  • Public-Private Partnership


With its head office located in Apapa Lagos, NIMASA has three zones:

  1. Central zone: Warri and Sapele, Delta State
  2. Western zone (Lagos)
  3. Eastern zone: Onne, Calabar, Yenagoa, Eket, Bonny, and Oron.

It also has offices in Abuja, and the United Kingdom.

Past and Incumbent DG of NIMASA

  1. Bassey U. Ekong: 1988
  2. Alhaji Munir Jafar’
  3. Engr. Buba Galadima: 1996 to 1998.
  4. John Egesi: (spent just 3 months as DG)
  5. Dr George Mbanefo Eneh: 1999-2000
  6. Architect Ferdinand Agu: 2000 to 2005
  7. Engineer Festus Ugwu
  8. Mrs. Mfon Usoro: August 2006 to May 2007
  9. Dr. Shamsideen Adegboyega Dosunmu: 2007 to 2009
  10. Lawyer Temisan Omatseye: July 2009 to December 2010
  11. Zaikede Patrick Akpobolokemi: December 22, 2010 to July 16, 2015
  12. Dr. Dakuku Adolphus Peterside: March 15, 2016 to March 2020
  13. Dr. Bashir Y. Jamoh: March 4, 2020 to date
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Criticisms against NIMASA

Major criticisms against the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency are:

  • Corruption
  • Job racketeering
  • Procurement violations
  • Transparency issues
  • Problem in implementing cabotage waiver

Job racketeering:

The core the agency has been dealing with even since its days as NMA, is the issue of corruption. For instance, in the 1990s, recruitment into the agency was shrouded in secrecy, and at the end, it was alleged that most of the employees were given jobs based on their political connection instead of experience.

A recent publication by Nigeria’s online platform Sahara Reporters, revealed how the incumbent NIMASA DG Dr. Bashir Jamoh secretly employed 500 people who are connected to powerful politicians and political elites. SR alleged that the jobs were given out to the powerful class without an official advertorial or interviews. It is described as “slots”. The DG denied the allegations.

Almost all government agencies and ministries which some analysts described as “juicy” agencies have been accused of job racketeering in the past.


During the military regime, it was also alleged that the National Maritime Authority administered the Ship Acquisition and Ship Building Fund and disbursed the highest percentage of the loans to close allies of the military government at the time, The loans were intended to boost ownership of ships by Nigerians.

The same corruption allegations that plundered the agency to comatose during the military regime continue unabated even during civilian rule.

For instance, a former Director at the agency Captain Warredi Enisuoh was arrested early in 2023, for alleged embezzlement by the officials of Nigeria’s anti-graft agency (EFCC). He had been facing alleged financial crimes since 2015 along with a former Director-General of the agency, Patrick Akpobolokemi.

In April 2023, another case of N1.1 Billion came up in Lagos against a former Executive Director of NIMASA Ezekiel Agaba.


Another one in April 2023, borders on the former DG of the agency Akpobolokemi, as Justice Tijjani Ringim of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos granted an order of interim forfeiture of the sum of  N725,345,897.77 and property located at Plot J 37A 218 Close, 2nd Avenue, Banana Island, Ikoyi, Lagos, which were connected with the former DG, reported The Punch.

Procurement violations

NIMAS board have also been accused of violating Procurement Act, 2007, in the manner they arbitrarily sign contracts worth billions of Naira. Just before the end of August 2023,  the DG was also accused of inflating the budgets of the agency.

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In July 2022, the Senate Panel on Public Accounts ordered the arrest of Dr Jamoh, for allegedly paying $5m to a legal firm as a professional fee for the recovery of a $9.3bn loss.

The list of corruption and violations of law establishing the agency goes on and on.

Who is the first DG of the National Maritime Authority (NMA)?

Bassey U. Ekong is the first NMA DG. He was appointed by IBB.

Who was the first DG when NMA became NIMASA?

Barrister Mfon Usoro was the first DG when NMA became NIMASA in 2006.

Which ministry controls NIMASA?

The Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy. It was formerly under the Ministry of Transportation.

How many departments are in NIMASA?

NIMASA has 11 departments and 11 units.

What are the powers of NIMASA?

The agency derives its power from the 2003 Cabotage Act, the 2007 NIMASA Act, and the 2007 Merchant Shipping Act.

Where is the headquarters of NIMASA in Nigeria?

NIMASA Head Headquarters is located at Victoria Island, Lagos. It was commissioned in November 2022.

What are the authentic social media handles of NIMASA?

@nimasaofficial is the official social media handle of the agency on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and @@nimasaofficial2745 on YouTube

Is NIMASA recruiting now?

At the time of this report, the agency isn’t recruiting. Besides, most of its recruitment is allegedly done in secrecy, according to SaharaReporters in its report.


  1. Gazettes Africa: “Shipping Policy Decree of May 11, 1987”. Retrieved September 3, 2023
  2. ILO.ORG: “Nigerian Maritime Labour Act, 2003”. Retrieved September 3, 2023


  • Opeyemi Quadri

    Ope is a finance writer and researcher with 10+ years of experience in content creation. His interests cut across real estate investment, foreign exchange, government policies and politics. He has a knack for breaking down complex financial concepts in a way that is easy to understand. Ope is available on Twitter @OpeQuadri.


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