President Muhammadu Buhari has called on stakeholders in the Gulf of Guinea to intensify their collective effort in the fight against pirate attacks and other crimes at sea in the Gulf of Guinea(GoG).Buhari made the call on Monday, while giving his opening address of the three-day Global Maritime Security Conference themed “Managing and Securing Our Waters, which is holding in Abuja from Oct.7-9.
Represented by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada, the President said the conference holding at this time was indicative of the resolve by the concerned states to remain committed to the course of tackling the piracy scourge.
He noted that fighting piracy and other crimes at sea in the GoG remained pertinent, considering the importance of the area to global trade, as much as safety and security are important to the forging ahead with the phase 11 of negotiations for the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
He said “I reiterate the need for a joint effort, because security in the Gulf of Guinea is vital and central to global trade in view of the fact that many critical trade routes connecting the continent to the rest of the world, run through the Gulf.”
The President also said that while international treaties on maritime security provide robust mechanisms for cooperation among maritime nations in the fight against piracy and crimes at sea, the Heads of Governments in Central and West African States had also instituted regional treaties to ensure safety and security in the maritime domain; the 2013 Yaounde Code of conduct, and the 2050 Africa Maritime Integrated Strategy and ECOWAS Integrated Maritime Security.
He, however, said that in spite of the GoG being at the epi-centre of maritime security discussions globally, Nigeria had been commended lately for her efforts at tackling the problem.
“Available statistics however indicate that efforts to eradicate the menace by governments in the region are bearing dividends. For example, the IMB Reporting Centre has recently reported: “a welcome and marked decrease” in attacks in the Gulf of Guinea for the second quarter of 2019, particularly commending the Nigerian Navy for actively responding to reported incidents by dispatching patrol boats.”
He said that with his signing into law of the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act on June 24, 2019, credibility was further given to the relevant maritime security treaties, providing the needed legal and institutional framework for Nigeria to ensure safe and secure shipping in Nigeria.
Nigeria has also recently put in place an Integrated National Surveillance and Waterways Protection Solution with Command and Control Infrastructure, the President said.
He added that much was also being achieved from the collaborative effort the Nigerian Navy is putting in with other maritime security agencies.
The GMSC is organised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Transport and the Nigerian Navy.
The conference seeks to address all identified challenges posing threats to the security of the maritime domain in the GoG, and develop a strategic plan to re-engineer the maritime security architecture.
The conference has in attendance delegates and participants from over 70 countries.