From left: Coordinator, Seas and Oceans Affairs, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Daniele Bosis, representative of Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority NPA, Mrs. Akwama, Chief of Policy and Plan, Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Begroy Ibe-Enwo, DG, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA Dr. Dakuku Peterside and Executive Secretary/CEO, Nigerian Shippers Council, Hassan Bello during the international press conference at the end of the Global Maritime Security Conference GMSC, held in Abuja from Monday, October 7-9, 2019. 

Delegates at the just concluded Global Maritime Security Conference GMSC rose yesterday from the three day- engagement, held between Monday, October 7-9, at the International Conference Centre in Abuja, with a firm call to criminalise acts of insecurity globally and that proceeds from illegal maritime activities from the region be treated as the case of the “Blood Diamonds”

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom Maritime Domain Awareness MDA Programme, an arm of the British Ministry of Defence, has called for teamwork among countries in the Gulf of Guinea, saying that there was need for deliberate efforts including information sharing and joint operations to end insecurity in the region.

This was part of a 17-point communiqué, tagged the ‘Abuja Declaration’ on the Gulf of Guinea security crisis at the end of the conference attended by delegates from over 80 countries of the world. A highpoint of the conference was the resolution 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 Transport, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, and read by Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside on behalf of the Gulf of Guinea states before about 2000 participants drawn from over 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 in the region, including stolen oil and illegal unreported and unregulated fishing activities should be banned as a matter of deliberate policy as was the case with the blood diamonds.

The conference also 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.

“The Gulf of Guinea 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”, the communiqué also said.

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.”

Meanwhile, the NIMASA DG had while speaking during an international press conference to close the conference emphasised the need for prompt actions to realise the implementation of the recommendations. Peterside also said that 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 theme of the conference was: “Managing and Securing our Waters” and was convened by the Federal Ministry of Transport, the Nigerian Navy, and NIMASA. It was aimed at finding sustainable solutions to the problem of maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea region.