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Poor funding, corruption hampering security.

Despite insufficient resources and lack of long term funding mechanisms, Nigeria has signed another agreement with its neighbour to tackle maritime security, BAYO AKOMOLAFE reports


Four years after the Yaoundé summit on maritime security, efforts by Nigeria and other maritime countries in the Gulf of Guinea to set up institutional structures to tackle the menace of robberies on sea and around anchorages have not yielded the desired result.


It was learnt that some initiatives on the suppression of organised crimes on sea were yet to be enforced due to a high degree of corruption and inadequate funding.

For instance, some countries in the Gulf of Guinea have received a wide range of financial, logistics and material support to address the challenges of maritime insecurity in their domains in the last one decade but no tangible effort has been made to justify the support.
Specifically, they have benefited from United States, France, China, United Kingdom and some other countries.



On its part, Nigeria has strategically entered into partnership with other countries in the GoG region leading to the establishment of ECOWAS Integrated Maritime Security Strategy (EIMS), Inter-Regional Coordination Center (ICC) in Younde Cameroon, an initiative of ECOWAS/ECCAS/GoG Commission, African Integrated Maritime Security Strategy (AIMS), leading Zone E multinational maritime security outfit in Cotonou, active in Cote d’ivoire based Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa (MOWCA).
The country has also coordinated heads of navies of the region and housed one of the five designated Regional Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres in Africa (RMRCC).


Other interventions that have also come into play are ratification and domestication of relevant International Treaties Safety, Security and Marine Environment Management, ratification of thirty-five International Maritime Organisation (IMO)’s Conventions/ Protocols.


Despite these, countries in the region have continued to face problem of robberies and piracy in their domains.


New initiative


Worried by the growing method being adopted by pirates in the West African waters, the Nigerian Navy has signed another Memorandum of Understanding with the heads of the navies of the Republics of Benin, Togo and the Higher Commander of the Gendarmerie of Niger Republic on joint operations in order to address the spectrum of maritime threats, legal complexities and governance gaps.


The Chief of the Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, while signing the MoU in Abuja recently, noted that the new step would lead to the implementation of joint patrol of country in the Maritime Zone E in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).


Director of Information for the Nigerian Navy, Commodore Ayo Olugbode, said that the MoU was signed during the meeting of the Chiefs of the Naval Staff of the ECOWAS Zone E and Higher Commander of the Gendarmerie of Niger at Headquarter of Multinational Maritime Coordinating Centre, Cotonou, Benin Republic.


He noted that the memorandum was to revisit, among others, the 2011 and 2012 Resolutions of the United Nations Security Council on the suppression of acts of piracy attacks against shipping and other illegalities at Sea.



Joint patrol

The eight-page document, which was divided into 11 Articles, established cooperation for Joint Maritime Patrol (JMP) through the pooling together of both material and human resources to enhance the security of the maritime area of the ECOWAS Zone E countries, consisting of Benin, Niger, Nigeria and Togo.


Olugbode explained that the maritime area of ECOWAS Zone E, which consists of international and territorial waters under the respective jurisdiction of the states of Benin, Nigeria and Togo, was coordinated by the Multinational Maritime Coordinating Centre (MMCC) in Cotonou, Benin Republic.





To support the new initiative, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has handed over its 16-seater AW149 Search and Rescue helicopter to the Nigeria Navy.


Its Executive Director, Operations, Rotimi Fasakin, said that the helicopter, which was acquired by the agency in 2007, was developed and produced by AgustaWesland (Leonardo Helicopters) and has capability to perform different roles such as search and rescue, offshore transport, firefighting, maritime patrol, law enforcement, emergency medical service and disaster relief.


Fasakin added that the aircraft was domiciled with the navy to perform some military operations.


“Since its acquisition, the RESCUE 1 has flown a total of 243 hours and 45 minutes. It has been successfully deployed for various operations,” he noted.


Besides, Nigerian Navy had also taken delivery of six patrol boats and 10 Rigid Hull Inflatable boats and many others as part of commitment to equip and arm the navy.

The Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, who disclosed this at the passing out parade of Batch 27 trainees at the Nigerian Navy Basic Training School (NNBTS) in Onne, Rivers State, explained that the build-up in fleet would achieve the desired objectives with the right amount and calibre of requisite personnel.


Dan-Ali said the new ratings were expertly trained in various warfare and maritime courses for a period of six months at the naval training facility.


Last line

There is need to build capacity and finance maritime security in the country.