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Maritime Security: Information sharing, joint operations, key to security in GoG

Delegates at the Global Maritime Security Conference (GMSC) rose from the three days engagement at the International Conference Centre in Abuja, with a firm declaration to globally criminalise acts of insecurity and proceeds from illegal maritime activities from the zone, as was with the case of the “Blood Diamonds”.

In a communiqué, termed Abuja Declaration on the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) crisis at the end of the conference, which was attended by delegates from about 80 countries, the conferees also agreed to constitute a “GMSC expert working group” to drive the implementation of the decisions, arising from the gathering in liaison with ECOWAS, ECCAS, ICC, and other international partners.

The communiqué session chaired by the Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, and read by Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, in front of about 2000 participants from nearly 80 countries, resolved that “Gulf of Guinea States and the international community should put mechanisms in place to ensure that resources that are illegally harvested/explored in the GoG, including stolen oil and Illegal Unreported and Unregulated Fishery, are intentionally banned as was the case with the ‘Blood Diamonds’”, the communique said.

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The conference called for collaboration among the navies, coast guards, and maritime authorities of countries in the Gulf of Guinea and other continental and international maritime nations. It said countries in the Gulf of Guinea should intensify maritime capacity and infrastructure building efforts to push the objectives effectively.

According to the communique, “GoG States should explore the possibility of designated maritime courts to handle cases of sea robbery, piracy and other maritime offences to ensure quick dispensation of cases in addition to capacity building and sensitisation of the judiciary on crucial relevant legislation.”

It further urged the GoG states to put more efforts to implement various agreed strategies at the continental, regional and national levels. “GoG States with the support of regional organisations like the ECOWAS, ECCAS, ICC and relevant international organisations should continue to ratify and fully domesticate the provisions of the relevant international conventions including UNCLOS 1982, SUA and Port States Measures Agreement.”

It also said, “GoG States should strengthen, including funding, national, zonal and regional maritime domain awareness centres to enhance information sharing and coordination”.