United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has charged the Nigerian Navy on tackling maritime threats such as armed robbery at sea and kidnapping of seafarers, among others in the Gulf of Guinea.
It described the Gulf of Guinea as a ‘dangerous hotspot area for seafarers’ adding that piracy and maritime crimes continue to pose serious threats to international trade, the safety of seafarers, and regional and global development.
In his address at the launch of the “Regional and National Capacities for Counter-piracy and Response in the Gulf of Guinea Project” in Abuja yesterday, the deputy resident representative, Mr Lealem Berhanu Dinku, stated that despite past actions by the Nigerian Navy, piracy and maritime crimes continued to pose serious threats to international trade.
Dinku also stressed the need for the safety of seafarers and regional and global development.
He called for concerted effort by the Nigerian Navy to advance moves in countering maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea.
Represented by Mr Matthew Also, Dinku was optimistic that with the Nigerian Navy making frontline moves against all sorts of criminalities in the Gulf of Guinea, there would be significant progress in the fight against piracy.
Dinku said the Gulf of Guinea continues to be a dangerous hotspot for seafarers with 43 per cent of global reported piracy incidents and all 40 kidnapped crew incidents occurring in this region in the first quarter of 2021.
“With the concerted efforts of regional and international navies, especially the Nigerian Navy, the reported piracy incidents from the region reduced from 16 in the first quarter of 2021 to seven over the same period in 2022,” he said.
“The partnership with the Nigerian Navy equally implies that subsequent phases of the project will be more robust in design, in implementation and be of fabulous benefits to all stakeholders in the GoG region,” he said.
On his part, the chief of naval staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo, who was represented by the director, Peacekeeping Operations, Naval Headquarters, Rear Admiral Abdulmajid Ibrahim, said the Nigerian Navy is not relenting in its effort to combat crimes in the GoG which has led to the removal of Nigeria from the International Maritime Bureau, IMB, list of piracy prone countries.
Gambo said the Nigerian Navy is not relenting in the effort that the menace of piracy is stemmed in the Gulf of Guinea region.
He said some of the laudable efforts made by the Navy is to build capacity which includes fleet renewal recapitalization through the induction of capital ships, inshore patrol aircraft and boats and helicopters in the service.
He said the Nigerian Navy also leveraged technology to enhance its surveillance capability.
The CNS said it entails using cameras and satellites to monitor ship traffic in the Gulf of Guinea.
Earlier, the Ambassador of Japan to Nigeria, Matsunaga Kazuyoshi, bemoaned the GoG situation, while explaining that the idea of strengthening cooperation with Nigeria became necessary, to ensure coordinated monitoring of the area.
Kazuyoshi, who was represented by Maehira Tomoyoshi, while commending the Nigerian Navy for their efforts, said that “statistics released by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), piracy incidents in the Gulf of Guinea dropped from 81 in the year 2020 to 34 in 2021 representing a 58.02 percent decrease.”
Also, the commandant, Martin Luther Agwai International Leadership and Peacekeeping Centre, Maj. Gen. AJ Fagge said the centre would continue to consolidate on its mandate to train and provide quality peacekeepers and leaders in all facets of national and international endeavours.