FROM INEMESIT AKPAN-NSOH (UYO), ODITA SUNDAY (LAGOS) AND ANIETIE AKPAN (CALABAR)
LITTORAL states in Africa and other parts of the world came together Tuesday to fine-tune ways of checking their common enemies, pirates, who have become a threat to merchant trade and economic progress across Africa.The event which held at the Eko Hotel and Towers, Victoria Island, Lagos has ‚ÄúDelivering Maritime Security to Africa‚Äù as its theme.
For the first time in history, the event was held in Africa and Nigeria was chosen as the host country.
Chiefs of naval staff of various littoral nations and captains of maritime industries were at the event, which would last for three days.
The chief host and the Nigerian Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Dele Ezeoba, in his speech noted that the evolving security threat around Africa‚Äôs maritime domain is directed at the economic lifeline of both littoral and landlocked states (landlocked states are non-coastal states).
According to him, ‚ÄúThe presence today of our political leaders, heads and representatives of navies and coastguards across and outside Africa evokes an important message on commitment towards finding solution to the maritime threats and related capacity inadequacies across the continent.
‚ÄúWhat is more disturbing is that much of the activities associated with the evolving threat. In other words, the scourge of various forms of illegalities, such as sea robbery, human trafficking, particularly pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft, including degradation of the maritime environment constitute serious challenges to the development of Africa.‚Äù
The Ghana‚Äôs Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Geofrey Biekro told the audience that the Gulf of Guinea has become a dangerous area for maritime trade.
‚ÄúThe Gulf of Guinea has become one of the most dangerous maritime areas in the world and piracy and sea robbery have become one of the most potent threats.
‚ÄúTherefore, criminal gangs are taking advantage of our failure to collaborate at the operational and tactical levels. They commit offence in territorial waters of one country and then move to another country for protection.‚Äù
The Minister of State for Defence, Mrs. Erelu Olushola Obada who declared the conference open said maritime insecurity was affecting¬† ‚Äòthe mainstay of the economy‚Äô which is the oil and gas sector.
Meanwhile, luck has run out of six sea pirates as a joint patrol team of Nigerian Navy ‚Äì NNS Jubilee, Akwa Ibom and NNS Victory, Calabar, yesterday engaged them in a shootout that resulted in their death. One of the hoodlums sustained serious injury.
This was revealed by Commander, NNS Jubilee, Akwa Ibom, Isaac Ogbole, while speaking with journalists.
According to him, the pirates who were using two boats, on sighting the patrol team, pretended as if the two boats were passenger boats.
Another four suspected sea pirates were on Monday feared dead after a shootout with men of the NNS Victory of the Nigerian Navy in Calabar.
The leader of the Naval team, Lieutenant Linus Osuman said the suspects were accosted along the Calabar channel during an escort.