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How maritime court can deal with piracy, other crimes at sea —Nigerian Navy

The Chief  of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas
The establishment of a maritime court
has become very important for the immediate and adequate management of cases
connected with piracy and other crimes at sea, in order to ease the burden of keeping
suspects or vessels arrested to that effect.

That was the view of the Chief of
Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, who was represented in an interview by
the Chief of Policy and Plans of the Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Begroy
Ibe-Enwo, during the Global Maritime Security Conference(GMSC), which held in

The GMSC was jointly organised by the
Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Nigerian Navy,
and the Federal Ministry of Transportation to address and proffer solutions to
the problem of insecurity in the maritime domain within the Gulf of Guinea

Responding to questions on how well
Nigeria had fared in terms of the legal framework to addressing the issue of
piracy in the GoG, the Navy Chief said the immediate important action would be
the establishment of a relevant and dedicated court to attend to the cases

His words: “Talking about the legal
aspect, it is already recognised in Nigeria. Actually, the difficult area for
us, for instance is, if the maritime criminals are apprehended and there are
expeditiously disposed of; either they are guilty and properly treated or they
are not guilty and they are left off the hook, I think we would have been
getting some respite, because it is a huge task, even keeping the ships when
they are arrested or keeping the criminals when you have arrested them. It is a
lot of costs and engagements, with all the legal implication to it.

“So, we don’t want to be engrossed in
that, because it is like a backlog. We are pushing the argument that other
countries should also borrow a leaf from us. All these exchange will help, and
they get to know more of what we are doing.

“The anti-piracy law newly signed by
the President shows that Nigeria is very ready to wrestle this crime, because
we know that the negative impact on the nation’s economy is very huge. So, there
is need for a maritime court, which can help to dispose of these cases more

Speaking on the strength of
collaborations with other GoG States and integrated maritime strategy to
conquer pirates’ activities, the Navy Chief said the GoG states have been
apportioned into zones, drawing from an African Integrated Maritime Strategy

From his response, countries
including Nigeria, Togo, Republic of Benin and Niger Republic belong to the
Zone E of the maritime security arrangement, and had signed a Memorandum of
Understanding to the effect of operational management.

As at the time of the session, it was
hoped that a maritime security coordination centre would be established to run
in Benin Republic, and that there would be a task arrangement to enable their
ships can criss- cross from one country’s body of water to another without any

An important point in that
arrangement, according to the Navy Chief, is to ensure that protocols required
for entry into another country’s water is already taken care of, this making it
difficult for criminals to have a hiding place.

He said that the Navy would like to
see more collaboration, more coordination, and more importantly, trust, since
the efforts would entail dealing with different countries that still have their
sovereignty to protect as well.

He, however, expressed confidence that the forum,
with various chiefs of navies meeting themselves with their staff officers and
exchange of interaction, would help build trust, which is vital in the effort to
ensuring security in the GoG area.

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