EU, Nigeria, and coastal states for greater collaboration to improve security in GoG
International Maritime Bureau exits Nigeria from its Piracy List- CNS
The Nigerian Navy wants enhanced collaboration in information sharing with the European Union (EU) and the coastal states in the sub-region, in tackling maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, stated this on Thursday while hosting a delegation of the European Union including the Italian Navy Ship ITN RIZZO, and Spanish Navy Ship ESPS SERVIOLA, to a first-ever Nigeria-European collaboration on maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.
The event took place at the Western Naval Command HQ office, Naval Base, Apapa.
The CNS said; “…the Nigeria Navy calls for enhanced collaboration with EU and coastal states within the framework of the Yaoundé Architecture on information sharing in order to bridge the apparent existing communication gap.”
Represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Naval Headquarters, Rear Admiral Saidu Garba, the CNS said that collaborating with the EU at this time is rewarding as Nigeria is committed to developing her Blue Economy, an area that demands a secure maritime environment.
Speaking on the importance of a safe environment for global maritime trade, the CNS noted that collaborations must go beyond Africa, since maritime is of global economic interest.
He said: “The struggle against maritime insecurity is a collaborative effort that no single country or region can tackle alone. For this reason, ECOWAS in conjunction with the Economic Community of Central African States formulated the Yaoundé Code of Conduct as a foundation for broad based regional maritime security along the entire Gulf of Guinea.
“But the security partnership goes beyond Africa, embracing the European Union and other key international players geographically outside the Gulf of Guinea because the Gulf of Guinea is of global importance as a crucial maritime route.”
He described as regrettable, maritime crimes including piracy, armed robbery at sea, kidnapping of seafarers, illegal unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU), smuggling, trafficking and transnational organized crimes threatening economic prosperity in West Africa.
The CNS also said that the Nigerian navy’s commitment towards maritime security yielded significant results, with the arrest and prosecution of 10 pirates who hijacked a Chinese fishing vessel, FV HAI LU FENG ll, off Cote D’Ivoire in May 2020.
He noted that the significant success occasioned by the Nigerian Navy’s increased maritime security operations against maritime criminalities in collaboration with other agencies also made the International Maritime Bureau to exit Nigeria from its Piracy List.
“Following the significant success occasioned by the Nigerian Navy’s increased maritime security operations against maritime criminalities in collaboration with other agencies, the International Maritime Bureau has exited Nigeria from its Piracy List.”
He added that besides collaborating with other navies in addressing security issues in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria has modern facilities to ensure Maritime Domain Awareness; some include the Falcon Eye and the Regional Maritime Awareness Capability Centres, which enables the Nigerian Navy to monitor its territorial waters and beyond.
The Head of EU delegations and EU Senior Coordinator for Gulf of Guinea, Mr. Nicolas Berlanga, at the first ever joint event on strengthening Nigeria-European Union cooperation on Maritime security, noted that the idea is that the EU has felt it was good that they coordinate and engage strategically with the Nigerian authorities and the Nigerian Navy.
He added that its presence on Nigeria waters is for the EU and its member states to offer partnership to the Nigerian navy to secure the gulf of Guinea region.
Also present at the event were Italian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stefano DE Leo and Spain Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Juan Sell.
The Italian Navy Ship, ITN RIZZO and Spanish Navy Ship, ESPS SERVIOLA, also made a port call to the Naval Dockyard for onward partnership and capacity demonstration.
Berlanga said: “the big principle is the effort that the Nigerian navy is making to strengthen maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea. It is also a work, which we benefit from because freedom of navigating, freedom of investment of economic activities is also our freedom. And in practical terms, the sea exercise that occurred between EU members and Nigeria is part of the partnership and Nigerians will see that more relevantly.”
Earlier in his welcome address, the Flag Officer Commanding, Western Naval Command, Rear Admiral Yakubu Wambai, commended the deployment of the Italian Navy Ship RIZZO and Spanish Navy Ship SERVIOLA on maritime security patrol mission in the Gulf of Guinea.
He attributed that happened to the cordial relationship between Nigeria and the EU, and expressed hope that “this kind of interaction would further strengthen the bilateral relations between Nigeria and the European Union and indeed Italy and Spain.”
Wambai added that: “It is hoped that the continued collaboration would improve operational coordination and information sharing as well as joint training and capacity building exercises that is desired to enhance maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.”
Of important note is the commencement of a two -day capacity demonstration among the Nigerian, Spanish and Italian navies, which is expected to cover the fight against piracy and other security threats within the maritime domain.