Following the recent arrest of over 40 vessels involved in illegal activities at the Gulf of Guinea, the Nigeria Navy is now collaborating with the United States and other member-states of the region for a holistic policing.
Based on this, it is organising Maritime Awareness Capability conference in Calabar, the Cross River State capital.
The Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Eastern Naval Command (ENC), Rear Admiral Joseph Aikhomu, stated this yesterday in Calabar, while addressing journalists on the July 29 to 31 Gulf of Guinea Regional Maritime Awareness Capability conference.
Aikhomu said the Gulf of Guinea was facing numerous security challenges like piracy, crude oil theft and illegal bunkering, unreported and unregulated fishing, drug and human trafficking as well as proliferation of small and light weapons.
These challenges which he described as disturbing, prompted the Nigerian Navy to collaborate with the US Office of Security Cooperation (OSC) to bring to the fore ‚Äúthe necessity of improving maritime domain awareness of the Gulf of Guinea and the need for member-states to collaborate in terms of intelligence gathering and information sharing.‚Äù
The FOC revealed that ‚Äúthe US has assisted many Africa countries to establish coastal surveillance stations, hence the need for collaboration and cooperation to meet the emerging challenges.‚Äù
According to him, the need to check crime in the region was because of its strategic importance as Nigeria and other countries within the gulf depended on the sea for transportation, food, trade, energy and capital.‚Äú All of which are essential ingredients of national security and imperatives of economic growth and national development,‚Äù he said.
Papers at the three-day event will be delivered by the Chiefs of Naval Staff of Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d‚ÄôIvoire, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Benin Republic Senegal, Togo, Cameroun and Sao Tome and Principe. Commanders of the US African Command and the US Naval Forces would¬† also deliver their papers at the event.
Aikhomu said the Nigerian Minister of State for Defence, Erelu Olusola Obada, would be the special guest of honour, while the Minister of Transport and Attorney General of the Federation would grace the occasion even as maritime stakeholders like Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Indigenous Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (ISAN) and the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) are not left out.
‚Äò‚ÄôIt is expected that the conference will provide avenue for information sharing and further cooperation among Gulf of Guinea nations in order to provide security for legitimate business in the region‚Äô‚Äô, Aikhomu said.
He made it clear that the Nigerian Navy under the leadership of Vice Admiral Dele Joseph Ezeoba was determined to ‚Äúensure that the maritime domain of the nation is kept safe against piracy, illegal bunkering, sea robbery and other illegalities.‚Äô‚Äô.