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.
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.
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’’.