FROM ODITA SUNDAY, DOUALA, CAMEROUN
NAVIES worldwide at the weekend resolved to tackle piracy and other illegal activities on the sea, especially in the oil-rich Gulf of Guinea.
About 15 countries‚Äô navies, including Nigeria, took the decision Monday at the opening of World Naval Sea Exercise tagged: Exercise Obangame Express in Douala, Cameroun.
They said that illegal activities, including drug trafficking, piracy and oil theft on the high sea, would no longer be tolerated.
The exercise, which would include a ‚Äòshow of military might‚Äô, aimed at making sea criminals steer clear of the waterways, was opened by the Camerounian Minister for Defence, Mebe Ngo‚Äôo Edgar d‚Äô Alain, at the Camerounian Military Base in Douala.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who was represented at the event by the Nigerian Ambassador to Cameroun, Mrs. Hadiza Mustapha, said that stamping out criminality at sea could not be achieved without a collaborative effort.
She added: ‚ÄúCountries are now co-operating to maintain international security. Nigeria is here for the exercise because the country and President Jonathan are firm believers in international security, especially in the maritime domain. ¬† ¬† As the High Commissioner of Nigeria to Cameroun, I am very proud that we have a large contingent, which is participating in this year‚Äôs exercise. I am very proud that it is happening in our brother country, Cameroun.‚Äù
‚ÄúSafety of our maritime environment needs a collaborative effort. I, therefore, enjoin countries participating in this exercise to take it seriously for our common economic good,‚Äù said Edgar d‚Äô Alain who spoke in French.
American Naval Chief, David Rollo, who serves as the Exercise Director for the United States Defence, stressed that time had come for navies to take drastic measures to end all sorts of illegalities on the sea.
According to Rollo: ‚ÄúThe goal of Exercise Obangame Express is to uphold maritime security and safeguard the sea for the benefit of all nations. We are all threatened by piracy, illegal fishing, trafficking in drugs, persons and other goods. It affects development, it affects economy; it is a regional and global problem. That is why we are here. We have been planning this exercise for a long time; it is now time to execute it. All the countries are ready, we are ready and we are expecting great things.‚Äù
War ships, which arrived in Douala for the exercise, included those of Ghana, France, Netherlands, United States, Togo, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and Sao Tome and Principe.
Other war ships were those of Benin Republic, Republic of Congo, Gabon, Cameroun, Cote d‚Äô Ivoire, Belgium, Portugal, among others.