PAULETTE ORJIME- Abuja
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has charged stakeholders in the Maritime sectors to work together in the fight against maritime crime within the Gulf of Guinea.
Buhari made this call on Monday in Abuja at the Global Maritime security Conference with a theme ‘Managing and Securing Our Water’ during his keynote address.
The President, represented by Ambassador Zubairu Dada, Minister of state, Foreign Affairs, stated the need for the call as the the Gulf of Guinea is vital to the global trade.
In his words, “Sadly, the Gulf of Guinea today is at the epi-center of maritime security discussion globally, given the incidents recorded in the region
“The convening of this timely conference here in Nigeria is an indication that we will not relent in efforts to rid our waters of the piracy scourge. To succeed in our objective, a collective effort from all stakeholders represented here today is essential. I reiterate the need for a joint effort because security in the Gulf of Guinea is vital and central to global trade in view of the fact that many critical trade routes connecting the continent to the rest of the world, run through the Gulf “, Buhari said.
The President added, “Also, the Gulf of Guinea encompasses diverse geographical, geological and rich cultural heritage with many of its states endowed with vast oil and gas deposits critical in addressing global energy demands.”
Buhari noted that Nigeria has put in place a Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act which he signed into law on the 24th of June. According to him, ” the Act, in essence, seeks to give further credence to the relevant international treaties of the United Nations and International Maritime Organization ratified by Nigeria and the continental and regional treaties subscribed to maritime safety and security.”
The President added, ” In addition to the suppression of piracy and other maritime offences Act, my administration has also put in place an integrated national surveillance and waterways protection solution with command and control infrastructure. The deliverables from the project have bolstered Nigeria’s maritime security architecture and increased monitoring and compliance enforcement within the Nigerian waters and the exclusive economic zone. The Nigerian Navy has also stepped up collaborative efforts with other maritime security agencies aimed at achieving a safe secure maritime domain”.
In her remarks at the occasion, the Minister of State , Transportation Gbemisola Saraki, Minister of State, Transports, noted that the significant global concern on the rising spate of maritime insecurity and the perception that the Gulf of Guinea Region accounts for most of these cases of challenges
” It is for this reason that Nigeria has decided to take the lead on behalf of the Gulf of Guinea states in convening this Conference to examine the strategies and coordinated responses in place to address maritime insecurity, ” Saraki said.
The minister further said, “The absence of legal frameworks within member states seems to be a significant challenge in the regional effort to stem the tide. Nigeria, in this regard thankfully has put in place detailed legislation in the form of a Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act to tackle and repress piracy and other maritime crimes in the Nigerian maritime domain.
“The most valuable element at the heart of the solution we seek is “Collaboration and Partnership” , adding that “I have no doubts in my mind that this Conference will push the realization of the security solution we seek for the Gulf of Guinea and the global shipping”.
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