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GMSC: Move to treat maritime crime proceeds like blood diamonds

     …Information sharing, joint operations, key to security in GoG -UK

Honourable Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki (Middle), Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ette-Ibas, (right), Director General, NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside (left) and other top government functionaries and participants at the just concluded Global Maritime Security Conference (GMSC), held in Abuja from October 7-9, 2019.  

Delegates at the Global Maritime Security
Conference (GMSC) rose yesterday from the three days engagement from Monday 7th
to Wednesday 9th October, at the International Conference Centre in Abuja, with
a firm declaration to globally criminalise acts of insecurity and proceeds from
illegal maritime activities from the zone as was with the case of the “Blood

In a communiqué, termed Abuja Declaration on
the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) crisis at the end of the conference, which was
attended by delegates from about 80 countries, the conferees also agreed to
constitute a “GMSC expert working group” to drive the implementation of the
decisions arising from the gathering in liaison with ECOWAS, ECCAS, ICC, and
other international partners.

The communiqué session chaired by the Minister
of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, and read by
Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency
(NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, in front of about 2000 participants from nearly
80 countries, resolved that “Gulf of Guinea States and the international
community should put mechanisms in place to ensure that resources that are
illegally harvested/explored in the GoG, including stolen oil and Illegal
Unreported and Unregulated Fishery, are intentionally banned as was the case
with the ‘blood diamonds,” the communique said.

The conference called for collaboration among
the navies, coast guards, and maritime authorities of countries in the Gulf of
Guinea and other continental and international maritime nations. It said
countries in the Gulf of Guinea should intensify maritime capacity and
infrastructure building efforts to push the objectives effectively.

According to the communique, “GoG States
should explore the possibility of designated maritime courts to handle cases of
sea robbery, piracy and other maritime offences to ensure quick dispensation of
cases in addition to capacity building and sensitisation of judiciary on
crucial relevant legislation.”

It further urged the GoG states to put more
efforts to implement various agreed strategies at the continental, regional and
national levels. “GoG States with the support of regional organisations like
the ECOWAS, ECCAS, ICC and relevant international organisations should continue
to ratify and fully domesticate the provisions of the relevant international
conventions including UNCLOS 1982, SUA and Port States Measures Agreement.”

It also said, “GoG States should strengthen,
including funding, national, zonal and regional maritime domain awareness
centres to enhance information sharing and coordination.”

The GoG States were encouraged to sustain
regular meeting of heads of states, heads of navies/coast guards and other
maritime enforcement agencies on issues of maritime security for mutual
benefit. In addition, relevant regional maritime agencies, industry
experts/representatives were charged to come up with informed policy decisions
on maritime security and related issues.

The conference equally noted, “GoG States
should engage in maritime spatial planning of coastal and urban areas to ensure
that maritime security vulnerabilities are not created particularly in
proximity to critical maritime infrastructure.

“GoG States should explore opportunities for
maritime law enforcement through targeted engagement with coastal and fishing
communities to support maritime security efforts.”

Speaking during an international press
conference to close the meeting, the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime
Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, emphasised the
need for prompt actions to realise the implementation of the recommendations.
Dakuku said the proposed expert working group should be established in the next
few months. 
Earlier at a press briefing, Richard Morris of
the United Kingdom Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) Programme, an arm of the
British Ministry of Defence, called for teamwork among countries in the Gulf of
Guinea. Morris called for deliberate efforts to dismantle legal, institutional,
and territorial impediments to joint security actions in the region.
He noted that the British government was
prepared to support countries in the region to achieve their maritime security
aspirations. Earlier speakers from France, Demark, United States, Japan, the
European Union, and a host of other countries pledged their readiness to
contribute to the security efforts in the Gulf of Guinea.

The GoG conference with the theme, “Managing
and Securing our Waters,” was convened by the Federal Ministry of
Transportation, the Nigerian Navy, and NIMASA. It was aimed at finding solution
to the problem of maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea.

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