By Maryam Ahmadu-Suka
Kaduna — 98 per cent of Nigeria’s bulk trade is currently being threatened by the increasing insecurity in its coastal region which is gradually extending to the greater part of the Gulf of Guinea, Commandant, Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC) Jaji, Kaduna, AVM John Chris Ifemeje, has said.
AVM Ifemeje said bulk of the country’s trade is done through its maritime environment which has continued to attract some security challenges with attendant legal implications.
Speaking at a seminar for Senior Course 37 of the Department of Maritime Warfare tagged ‘The Law of the Sea’ yesterday in Jaji, the commandant highlighted crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism and operation of oil refineries as some major challenges being faced which extend to the greater Gulf of Guinea (GOG).
Represented by the Deputy Commandant, Rear Admiral Sylvanus Abbah, the commandant maintained that the seminar is timely, relevant and indeed justifiable not only because of Nigeria’s current quest to extend her continental shelf but also due to the legal and security burdens associated with such extensions, especially with the current heightened military, diplomatic, economic and legal interest in the Gulf of Guinea.
“Nigeria is a littoral state with a coastline of 420 nautical miles and vast sea space of 84, 000 square nautical miles. Within this area are living and non-living resources such as fish and crude oil from which comes about 90 per cent of our foreign earnings. Adjunct to the foregoing is the fact that 98 per cent of Nigeria’s bulk trade is done through our maritime environment.”
“These economic activities which extend to the greater Gulf of Guinea (GOG) have continued to attract some security challenges with attendant legal implications in recent times. Some of these challenges include crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism and illegal oil refineries. Others are illegal oil bunkering, sea robbery and piracy,” he said.
He commended the Director, Department of Maritime Warfare (DMW), Commodore Obinna Ofodile, for his vision in the choice of the topics and resources persons.
In his welcome address, Commodore Ofodile said the seminar is designed to create a forum for the discussion of issues related to the maritime environment in which the students will operate after their course.
“The policing role of the Nigerian Navy is aimed at ensuring that the nation’s maritime space is conducive for economic activities, going by the enormity of this responsibility to the nation, the issue at stake is how the Nigerian Navy would carry out its task in line with the Laws of the Sea,” he said.