For the second time in about six months, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), a specialised agency of the United Nations responsible for regulating shipping, has extolled Nigeria’s leadership role in the quest for security in the Gulf of Guinea.
In a letter addressed to Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, IMO specifically highlighted NIMASA’s contribution to the war against piracy and maritime crimes in the region, including facilitation of the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act, 2019, and initiation of the Deep Blue Project.
It said they were proof of the country’s abiding determination to lead the charge against maritime crimes in the region.
Jamoh had earlier, in a virtual address to a meeting of the G7++Group of Friends of the Gulf of Guinea (G7++FOGG), expressed Nigeria’s resolve to lead efforts to achieve security in the region.
He said Nigeria’s strategy against insecurity in the region would be based on home-grown solutions. But the NIMASA Director-General also sought international cooperation and technical assistance, particularly as regards maritime security strategy and policy development in line with IMO instruments.
In the letter signed on behalf of the IMO Secretary General, Kitack Lim, by the Director, Maritime Safety Division, Heike Deggim, the United Nations maritime organ praised “the efforts of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for its contribution to the fight against piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea.”
IMO said, “From the successful enactment of new legislation in the form of the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Act, 2019, complete with the forthcoming Guidelines, to the initiation and implementation of the C4i Deep Blue Project, Nigeria continues to demonstrate its leadership in the region with regard to maritime domain awareness and the enhancement of maritime security amongst littoral States.
“IMO remains committed to supporting the good work being done by Gulf of Guinea States, such as Nigeria, to improve maritime governance and to enhance maritime security in terms of both current and emerging threats and challenges. It is, therefore, imperative that States adopt a strategic approach, in order to ensure effective implementation and compliance.”
Lim had in June similarly written to Jamoh following the arrest and prosecution of some suspected pirates by Nigeria. The Secretary General said the moves sent a “strong and valuable message” to the international community about Nigeria’s commitment to safety and security in its waters and the Gulf of Guinea.
In the glowing appraisal, Lim said of Jamoh, “I commend your leadership and proactive response. I would also like to reiterate my congratulations to the Nigerian Navy on the successful capture and arrest of pirates from the fishing trawler Hailufeng 11, and more recently on the rescue of the crewmembers of the containership Tommi Ritscher.
“Those actions, together with all the other initiatives you highlighted in our meeting, including progress with the Deep Blue Project, send a strong and valuable message to the international community with respect to the considerable efforts your government is making to curb piracy and armed robbery against ships in the Gulf of Guinea.”
While addressing the G7++FOGG meeting, Jamoh stressed Nigeria’s efforts to rid the Gulf of Guinea of maritime crime, using local initiatives anchored on the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, also called the Deep Blue Project, with the Command, Control, Communication, Computers, and Intelligence Centre (C4i Centre); SPOMO Act; and intensified regional cooperation. He welcomed the support of international bodies and stakeholders, such as the G7++FOGG, but emphasised the imperative of regional collaboration as Nigeria’s preferred strategy
Jamoh acknowledged the challenge of piracy and armed robbery in the region, but said, “Our solution to the insecurity in the GoG must be home-grown, with GoG countries cooperating amongst themselves. Commitment to this cause must become an imperative.”
The Director-General underlined the country’s determination to direct the war on maritime crimes in the region, stating, “I have often maintained that Nigeria is the Gulf of Guinea and the Gulf of Guinea is Nigeria. We recognise our strategic leadership position and role in the GoG, which has informed the extent of an integrated system of investment to curb criminality in our waters, ranging from enactment of designated legislation to development of human capacity and acquirement of critical hardware and platforms.”
Jamoh hailed the call by international stakeholders for multi-stakeholder cooperation to contain piracy, kidnapping, and other criminal activities in the Gulf of Guinea.
According to him, “Nigeria is working with the IMO to develop a National Maritime Security Strategy and in support of this has started work to form a National Maritime Security Committee consisting of the National Security Adviser, Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Air Force, INTERPOL, Marine Police, and other relevant security agencies. This committee will give focus and strategic direction to our maritime security effort.”
The G7++FOGG was formed in 2013 during the British presidency of the G7 to support the maritime security architecture developed under the Yaoundé Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct developed by three regional organisations – Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and Gulf of Guinea Commission (GGC) – focuses on the Repression of Piracy, Armed Robbery against Ships and Illicit Maritime Activities in West and Central Africa.
G7++FOGG comprises the G7 countries (Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, France, United Kingdom, and United States of America), and Belgium, Brazil (observer), Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, the European Union, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and INTERPOL.