Aminat Isah, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated the need for a collaborative efforts as a way of curbing security issues in the Gulf of Guinea.
Buhari stated this to declare open the Global Maritime Security Conference(GMSC) in Abuja today, saying that the Gulf of Guinea through which many critical trade routes connecting the continent to the rest of the world runs through is vital and central to global trade.
According to Buhari, who was represented by the minister of state Foreign affairs, Amb. Zubairu Dada, world waters account for over 80% of transportation requirements in the global trading supply chain network across established international routes and trade lanes, while the threats of piracy and armed robbery at sea are an issue of global concern.
He noted that the Gulf of Guinea today is at the epicentre of maritime security discussions globally, given the incidents recorded in the region.
He further explained that available statistics however indicates that efforts to eradicate the menace by the governments in the region are bearing dividends.
Citing example of efforts put in place so far, Buhari said ” I am pleased to mention that Nigeria has put in place a suppression of piracy and other offences act, which I signed I to law on the 24th of June 2019.
“The act in essence seek to give further credence to the relevant international treaties of the United Nations and International Maritime Organisation ratified by Nigeria and the continental and regional treaties subscribed to on maritime safety and security, to provide the much needed legal and institutional framework for Nigeria to ensure safe and secure shipping in Nigerian waters.
“The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre which recently reported that there has been 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
The Minister of Transportation, Hon Rotimi Amaechi earlier in his address pointed out that the conference is organised to examine and address the issues of maritime security with a spotlight on the Gulf of Guinea Region, hence the significant global concern on the rising spate of maritime insecurity and the perception that the Gulf of Guinea Region which accounts for most of these cases.
Amaechi, who was represented by the Minister of State Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, further said the position of Nigeria in the Gulf of Guinea led to the decision of the country to take the lead on behalf of the Gulf of Guinea states in convening the Conference to examine the strategies and coordinated responses in place to address maritime insecurity.
“Whilst there have been several endeavors to address the broad array of real and potential threats in the Gulf of Guinea over time, the approach this time is to appraise the relevance and impacts of the various interventions initiated already to tackle maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea to revise and adapt them to address the current challenges.
“The absence of legal frameworks within member states seems to be a significant challenge in the regional effort to stem the tide,”
She further explained that Nigeria, in a bid to stem the tide has put in place detailed legislation in the form of a Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act to tackle and repress piracy and other maritime crimes in the Nigerian maritime domain.
“An integrated maritime security architecture has also been emplaced with a command and control centre for effective policing of the Nigerian waters. The initiative encompasses three main components: A C4-I Intelligence system to enhance domain awareness; acquisition of land, air and marine assets for patrols, quick response and interdiction; and the retraining and capacity building of military response teams to effectively respond to threats and incidents within the maritime domain,” she said.
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