The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Interregional Coordination Centre (ICC), Yaoundé, have forged an alliance to tackle the lingering piracy that has continued to threaten shipping activities in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG).
The duo, in a joint communiqué on the framework to tackle maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea, said ICC Yaoundé and Nigeria intend to form a framework to provide shared awareness on activities in the Gulf of Guinea.
The platform, known as Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum (GOG-MCF/SHADE), according to the communiqué will be opened to all GOG countries with similar capacities to join on a voluntary basis.
“The 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,” they stated.
The duo agreed that a number of attacks/kidnapping in the Gulf of Guinea region against merchant’s vessels is alarming and needed urgent attention.
The Executive Director of ICC Yaoundé, Admiral Narciso Fastudo and the Director-General, NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh, representing Nigeria, have held meetings to explore how to adopt a truly integrated approach to the operational challenge of tackling the problem of piracy and armed robbery.
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It was gathered that the synergy of the Yaoundé structure and extensive effort by Nigerian officials to reduce the number of attacks through the delivery of its Deep Blue Project is a good combination.
Both parties were also cognisant of the effort made by international partners and wish to establish meaningful engagement that leads towards more cooperative action at sea.
Identifying that some stakeholders hold real-time information on the situation at sea while others have operational capability and means, it was therefore with an urgency that stakeholders with an interest in the GOG maritime security jointly agree and implement appropriate solutions to reduce the harm to seafarers.
It was also recognised that countries beyond the immediate region are looking for ways and means to contribute to this effort and a sustainable mechanism to do the needful.
Jamoh and Fastudo announced the intention to hold the first GOG-MCF/SHADE online meeting as soon as possible.
They noted that given its separate but complementary nature, the G7++FOGG would support the creation of the GOG-MCF/SHADE which would comprise:
An open plenary session; working group meetings; working group chairs; coordination meeting; plenary session report; while the registration details and the agenda would be published soon.
Both the ICC Yaoundé and Nigeria encouraged all stakeholders to become involved in the ground-breaking effort to reduce regional maritime insecurity.
The ICC, a coordination and information-sharing structure that connects the Regional Maritime Security Centre for Central Africa (CRESMAC) and the Regional Maritime Security Centre for West Africa (CRESMAO).
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) in its quarterly report on maritime piracy had recently declared that the Gulf of Guinea has continued to be dangerous for seafarers accounting for nearly half of all reported piracy incidents in the first quarter 2021.
It noted that while the number of reported piracy attacks against commercial shipping declined in 2021, violence against crew is on the rise with the Gulf of Guinea remaining the world’s piracy hotspot in 2021.