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Gulf of Guinea

The alarming resurgence of pirate and armed robbery attacks in the Gulf of Guinea has raised significant concerns among stakeholders. Despite previous efforts that led to a decline in incidents, recent reports indicate a distressing increase in maritime security threats. This article highlights the importance of enhancing safety measures and fostering collaboration among coastal States to combat piracy and secure the region.

Surge in Maritime Incidents:

The mid-year report from the ICC International Maritime Bureau (IMB) revealed a worrisome surge in piracy and armed robbery incidents in the Gulf of Guinea. Between the first and second quarters of the year, there were 65 reported incidents, compared to 58 during the same period the previous year. This includes the successful boarding of 90% of targeted vessels and violence towards crew members, resulting in hostages, kidnappings, and injuries.

Call for Strengthening the Security Architecture:

The United Nations (UN), African Union (AU), and the IMB have consistently called for the full operationalization of the maritime security architecture outlined in the Yaoundé Code of Conduct, which initially led to a decline in piracy incidents. However, the lack of a robust security framework and sustainable financing has jeopardized the progress achieved so far.

Economic Implications:

Piracy threats in the region have substantial economic repercussions, amounting to over $1.9 billion in financial losses annually, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). This further emphasizes the urgent need to address the security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea.

Successes and Challenges in Maritime Security:

Efforts by national authorities and the deployment of naval assets by regional and international partners, including Nigeria’s Deep Blue Project, have contributed to the reduction of piracy incidents. However, the lack of funding and limited implementation of maritime security capabilities have hindered achieving full success.

Enhanced Implementation of the Deep Blue Project:

Security experts stress the importance of fully implementing the capabilities of the Deep Blue Project, especially the Falcon Eye of the Nigerian Navy, to effectively secure the maritime domain. A collaborative approach among relevant ministries is essential to ensure successful implementation.

Emphasizing National Interest in Diplomacy:

While seeking support from international partners, it is crucial for Nigeria to prioritize its national interest in diplomatic efforts. The involvement of other countries should align with Nigeria’s interests to ensure effective security measures.

Addressing Unemployment of Seafarers:

A significant factor contributing to maritime insecurity is the unemployment of seafarers. Establishing coast guards comprising these skilled individuals can complement the efforts of the Nigerian Navy and enhance the nation’s maritime defense.

Calling for Continued International Support:

The IMB Director, Michael Howlett, emphasizes the necessity of robust regional and international naval presence to act as a deterrent against piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea. A continued collaborative effort is required to develop sustainable solutions for the protection of seafaring and fishing communities.

The resurgence of piracy and armed robbery attacks in the Gulf of Guinea demands immediate action to prioritize safety and security. Strengthening the maritime security architecture, implementing the Deep Blue Project to its full potential, addressing unemployment among seafarers, and fostering international collaboration are vital steps toward ensuring the safety of the region’s waterways.

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