NIMASA: Battle Against Piracy In The GOG Takes A New Turn

By Stephen Ubanna

The battle against Pirates  operating  in the notorious Gulf of Guinea, GOG, appear to have taken a new turn  that would put smile to the faces of Captains and Crew members of ocean-going vessels  as the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA and the Inter-Regional Coordination Centre, ICC, of Yaounde, of the Central African country Cameroon, plot to ensure security of ships  in the region.

The twelve Basin countries that borders the GOG, include are Nigeria, Liberia, Cote’dIvoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola, all member countries of the African Union.

  It is interesting to note that seven of the countries are member countries of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS,  while  four belong to the Central African sub-region and Angola,  bordering the GOG, is the only basin country from  the  Southern  African Development  Community, SADC.

Many believe that it is from the Angola waters that Somalia Pirates penetrate the West African sub – region to Combine with their  Nigerian , Gabon , and pirates from the other  countries  that border the GOG region to harass ocean –going vessels. Nigeria has  been the only only country carrying the burden of tackling the Pirates operating in the region over the yeas had been recognized by Kitack Lim, the Secretary General, of the International Maritime Organisation, IMO, A United Nations , UN, Maritime  Agency. 

Worried about the escalation of the attacks on ocean-going vessels  and their Crew members in the region,  Lim, the Secretary General of the IMO,  had stressed the need  for the twelve stakeholder- Basin  countries’’ to come together  to restore security  and reduce the threats to the safety  and security of vessels operating in the region’’ last February.

Attacked Liberia Flagged MV Mozart In Nigeeria Waters Faciliated Formation Of Nigeria And ICC, Yaounde, GOG-MC/SHADE

The need to unite the forces  of the West and Central African sub-regional countries, and the Gulf of Guinea  Commission, in order  to fully tackle the piracy activities in the region was said to have  been underlined by the recent attack  on the Liberian flagged  Turkey based  MV,Mozart. The vessel which was sailing from Nigerian waters to Cape Town in South Africa was attacked  on January 23, 2021, some 100 nautical miles from the  Basin country of Sao-Tome and Principe. The attack had resulted in the killing of  the European country of Azerbaijani national and the kidnap of 15 other Crew members.

The  attack, according to Dryad Global, was exceptional  because of its severity  and distance from the shore, being the furthest  offshore incident  that had been recorded in the West African  sub-region in the recent time. 

As a prelude to addressing the insecurity Challenges in the GOG,  Lim, the IMO boss, had revealed  in a Circular , No. 4382,  dated February  10,2021,  the actions that had been taken by the United Nations, UN, Martime Agency,  ‘’to enhance  the Coordination  of initiatives  among stakeholders.

Lim: Secretary General, IMO

 This, The Value News learnt included  facilitating  the meetings, with Representatives of the industry, NIMASA, and the IC yaounde, for the implementation   of the Regional  Strategy  for Maritime Security  in Central and West Africa sub-regions , The ICC Yaounde  was said to have been  inaugurated on September 11, 2014 but emained ineffective till date.

It was said to have been rejuvenated by the action packed Jamoh, the Director General, NIMASA, who was said to have  started a sensitisation  Campaign  to bring  the stakeholders to a round table meeting to discuss the Yaounde  ICC, security measures and how to restore sanity for ocean going vessels in the Gulf of Guinea. The fallout was the formation  of the Nigeria  and the ICC, Yaounde  Forum to gavanise Regional and international efforts ‘’to ensure security  in the GOG’’.

The Magazine gathered that  the GOG, Maritime Collaboration Forum  was floated after    several meetings that was said to have been held  bby Jamoh,  the NIMASA Director  General  and Admiral Nrciso Fastudo Jr, Executive Director, ICC, Yaounde.

A joint Statement   issued by the duo after their recent meeting speaks volume. It   shows that the GOG-MCF/SHADE, which had been formed has the official mandate ‘’ to facilitate shared awareness and DE’ confliction of activities  in the region, which  that would be  open to all the twelve  Basin member countries of the GOG, with capacity to join  on a voluntary basis.

The Joint Statement signed by the duo, dated , April 26, 2021, which was released to the Press by Philip Kaynet, a Deputy Director, and Head of the Agency Corporate Communications  said ‘’ the GOG-MCF/SHADE  will basically focus  on counter-piracy  and sea armed robbery  by bringing together the Regional, International, Industry and Non- Governmental Organisations, NGO, partners to ‘’advance and Coordinate  maritime activities in the region  with a view ‘’ to working  toward a set  of common operational  objectives in order to protect ships and their Crew members, operating off the coast of West and Central African Sub-regions.

Given the seriousness attached to the GOG-MCF/SHADE, formed at the instance of the IMO,  Jamoh and the ICC,Yaounde Executive Secretary were said to have agreed ‘’to hold  the first virtual meeting as soon as practicable, noting that the modalities  for the meeting   would be announced later’’.

They had said  that due to the Complementary  nature  of the G7++Group of friends  of the GOG, they would continue to support the Creation of  the  new body, which  would comprise an open plenary session, working group meetings, working group chairs, Coordination meetings  and a plenary session on Report.

This is bad news for the Pirates operating in Nigerian  waters  and the gulf of Guinea as they many no longer find it easy. This hasbeen the Opprtunity which the G7++  have been waiting for to over the years to come into the  GOG region to deal  with the Pirates in their  own way which has been given to them on aplatter of gold with the formation of the GOG-MCF/SHADE.

Given an insider information of the Forum, Jamoh, the Chief Executive Officer, CEO, of NIMASA, had said that the maritime security framework  speaks  to the  country’s Integrated  approach ‘’to security  in the nation’s waters and the GOG’’.

Hear him: We have always believed  in bringing  all the maritime stakeholders together  in search  for security for the GOG,  and we have Always preferred that as a  solution  at the  various  forums  with our Regional  and International partners over the years.

An elated Jamoh declared, ‘’I  am confident  that the Cooperative  efforts  and shared capabilities  are the best  approach  to success  in our Collective  quest  to achieve success’’ in forcing the Pirates operating in the GOG, to their knees.  This may have informed why he had said that the GOG-MCF/SHADE, ‘’is coming  a powerful force  for security  in the GOG’’.

Lim , the IMO, Secretary General, may have alluded to the fact  that for the Yaounde dreams to come to rality of restoring sanity in the GOG,  in one his Maritime speeches,’’ocean-going vessels need  to implement the UN Maritime agency  endorsed Best  Management Practices, BMP, for Nigeria and other West African countries  to avoid, deter, delay and report attacks’’.The BMP, according o Lim   ‘’covers risk assessment, ship protection measures and reporting’’.       

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