Maritime illegalities: G7, Gulf of Guinea Nations meet

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FILE PHOTO: G7 Summit

The Gulf of Guniea

The G7 with the nations around Gulf of Guinea (GOG) on Monday in Lagos met with regional stakeholders to tackle maritime illegalities around the domain.

The meeting was hosted by the Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Adm. Ibok Ete-Ibas, at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island in Lagos.

The meeting focused on the fight against piracy, illicit trafficking of narcotics, weapons, illegal fishing as well as the development of the maritime economy as a whole.

According to the group, the GOG, with its over 6000 nautical miles stretching from Senegal in the North, to Angola in the South, covers 20 coastal states.

It is vital to the economy of nations.

The Lagos meeting is coming at the heels of the one held in Rome where more than 120 participants from over 40 Countries met.

The countries met to discuss the security conditions navigating in the GOG, where ships are often attacked by pirates.

The G7++ comprises Germany, Canada, the United States, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, Brazil (observer), South Korea, Denmark, Spain, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland and the European Union.

According to the G7++ President, Mr Daniele Bosio, the important proof of the ever-increasing involvement of the African partners in building the region’s maritime security influenced the decision to hold the second annual meeting in Lagos.

“We all accept the fact that we share common interests in making the GoG an open maritime and sea line of communication protected from piracy and other related offences.

“In the last few years, fundamental steps have been undertaken with the approval of the London Code of Conduct in the state of the GoG, which is a key instrument,” he said.

Minister of Defence Mansur Dan-Ali, who was the special guest of honour, decried the recent increase of criminality in the GoG region.

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“In recent years, the Gulf of Guinea region experienced an increase in the rate of criminality which are mostly in the Nigerian waters.

“This includes kidnapping, piracy/sea robbery, illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, smuggling, human and drug trafficking, illegal bunkering and crude oil theft.

“Unfortunately, factors that fuel the acts are centred on the socio-economic issues in the Niger Delta region, coupled with the activities of external collaborators who derive pecuniary benefits from internationally organized crimes,” he said.

He said the Nigerian Government had adopted hard and soft power approach, including bilateral and multilateral collaborations with organizations to change the narrative of insecurity.

“The hard power approach is spearheaded by the Nigerian Navy, in conjunction with other maritime security stakeholders such as the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.

“Meanwhile, an Anti-piracy Bill is being legislated at the National Assembly.

“To further boost employment and curb crude oil theft, the Federal government is in the process of establishing modular refineries in the region,” he said.

He also said it was gratifying to state that the various measures adopted to stem the rising tide of criminality in the Gulf of Guinea had yielded positive results.

In attendance were delegates from the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Ministry of Defence (MOD), International Criminal Court (ICC), Economic Organisation of West African States (ECOWAS), African and European Unions.

Some of the G7 countries in attendance included Denmark, Germany, Japan, France, USA, Norway, Portugal, Belgium, Spain, Netherlands and United Kingdom.

African countries also included Cote d’Ivoire, Benin Republic, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Republic of Guinea,
Togo, Sierra Leone and Liberia.