May 12, 2021

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Nigeria, ICC Yaoundé Pioneer Initiative to Tackle Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea

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Dr. Bashir Jamoh, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA

The Federal Government of Nigeria, has entered into a collaborative agreement with the Inter-Regional Coordination Centre (ICC) Yaoundé, Cameroon, for the sole aim of beefing up security to put piracy in check in the Nigeria’s territorial waters and in the Golf of Guinea, GOG.

A joint statement by NIMASA, the Nigerian Navy, and ICC Yaoundé said GOG-MCF/SHADE, which was established to facilitate shared awareness and prevent conflict from rearing its ugly head within the Gulf of Guinea, “will be open to all GOG countries with similar capacities to join on a voluntary basis.”

The statement dated 26th April 2021, said, “GOG-MCF/SHADE will focus on counter-piracy and armed robbery by bringing together regional, international, industry and NGO partners to advance and coordinate near term maritime activities with a view to working toward a set of common operational objectives in order to protect seafarers and ships operating off the coast of West and Central Africa.”

Jamoh and Fastudo agreed to hold the first virtual meeting of GOG-MCF/SHADE as soon as practicable, saying modalities would be announced later.

The statement from NIMASA helmsman said due to its complementary nature, the G7++Group of Friends of the Gulf of Guinea (G7++FOGG) would support the creation of GOG-MCF/SHADE, which would comprise an open plenary session; working group meetings; working group chairs, coordination meeting; and a plenary session report.

Jamoh said, “The new maritime security framework speaks to our own integrated approach to security in the country’s waters and the Gulf of Guinea. We have always believed in bringing all maritime stakeholders on board in the search for security, and we have proffered that as a solution at various forums with our regional and international partners.

He enthused, “I am confident that cooperative efforts and shared capabilities are the best approach to success in our collective quest for maritime security. GOG-MCF/SHADE is coming as a powerful new force for security in the Gulf of Guinea.”

ICC SECURITY REPORT

Recalled an official report by ICC of an attack on a vessel at the Nigeria territorial waters in the first week of February 2021. The official report described the attack as “the ninth incident in West African waters so far this year, Dryad reported. 2021 has started off with several serious attacks, including a rare fatality during a kidnapping incident aboard the Turkish-operated container ship Mozart late last month”.

The report painted situation on the Gulf Of Guinea and parts of Nigeria territorial water thus, “attacks instigated by Nigerian pirate groups account for the overwhelming majority of serious piracy incidents worldwide. All hijackings and 95 percent of all maritime kidnappings recorded last year (2020) occurred in the Gulf of Guinea, affecting 130 crewmembers in 22 separate attacks. One record-setting kidnapping occurred almost 200 nautical miles from land, and the average kidnapping occurred within about 60 nm offshore, according to International Maritime Bureau, IMB, illustrating the range and capability of Niger River Delta pirate action groups”.

ICC reported that, “about 80 percent of the attackers were equipped with firearms, according to IMB. Nine out of the 11 incidents worldwide in which vessels came under fire occurred in this region”.

ICC noted that, “the latest statistics confirm the increased capabilities of pirates in the Gulf of Guinea with more and more attacks taking place further from the coast . . . Despite prompt action by navies in the region, there remains an urgent need to address this crime, which continues to have a direct impact on the safety and security of innocent seafarers,” said Michael Howlett, Director of the ICC International Maritime Bureau”.

Succinctly put, these and many other challenges provoked the initiative by Nigeria’s representative at the regional forum to explore further initiative towards changing the sad narrative of insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea nay the Niger Delta stretch of the region.

By-: Ayoola Olaitan

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