Nigeria: Centre to coordinate maritime safety, security in Gulf of Guinea established

Lagos, Nigeria (PANA) - Chief executives of the three organisations in the Gulf of Guinea have signed an agreement to establish a centre to coordinate their safety and security responses to the challenges of the gulf, PANA learnt Friday.

The Gulf of Guinea is an area with a 6,000-kilometre long coastline between Angola in the East and Senegal in the West that has recently witnessed an upsurge in piracy and other forms of transnational crime.

The vast resources of the gulf, which produces five million barrels of oil daily and holds 24 billion barrels in reserve, some five per cent of the global reserve, also include fisheries and other minerals.

About 1,434 cases of criminality were reported in the area between 2003 and 2011, mostly piracy, illegal trade in crude oil, trafficking in persons and drugs, illegal and unregulated fishing, waste dumping and pollution.

The Inter-regional Coordination Centre for the Implementation of Regional Strategy for Maritime Safety and Security in Central and West Africa (ICC) will develop a “unique strategy framework” to deal with the issues of criminality at sea that integrates safety, security, development and governance dimensions.

The Additional Protocol for the ICC, which was signed Thursday in Yaounde, Cameroon, emanates from the Memorandum of Understanding signed by Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, ECCAS, the equivalent for Central Africa and the Gulf of Guinea Commission during their summit of 25 June 2013 in the capital of Cameroon.

The Yaounde-based ICC will build the capacities of civilians and military personnel of the two regions in maritime law enforcement; coordinate training and practices; facilitate information exchange among the navies of the member states; promote the harmonisation of texts on maritime law enforcement including those relating to the fight against piracy, armed robbery, other illicit acts committed at sea, sea pollution and ensure the protection of the environment.

The mandate of the inter-regional and multifunctional Centre, comprising military and civilian staff, also includes ensuring the compatibility and inter-operability of the architectures for maritime safety and security in the two regions, information generation and dissemination and cooperating with regional organisations responsible for the fisheries and mining sectors.

Also signed at the ceremony were the Rules of Procedure for the annual general meeting of the Chief Executives, the body responsible for orientation, monitoring and evaluation of the Centre including the appointment of key staff such as the Executive Director, the Deputy and Heads of its five divisions as well as staff discipline.

ECOWAS Commission Vice President Toga Gayewea McIntosh, who signed for the organisation, said that by the signing, the organisations have strengthened the linkage between regional security and development as it would not only promote safety but contribute to the free movement of goods and services at cheaper costs.

In her speech, French Special Representative for the control of maritime piracy Veronique Roger-Lacan spoke of the strategic value of the gulf which, beyond its endowments, also accounts for between 28 and 40 tonnes of the cocaine trafficked from South America to Europe and valued at 1.3 billion euros.

The envoy, who spoke on behalf of the P3 countries that also includes the United Kingdom and the US, said 40 per cent of illegal fishing also goes on in the area resulting on the loss of 350 million dollars per year to the countries of the gulf.

Cameroon’ s Minister of State for Defence, Mr. Edward Alain Mebe Ngo’o, said the signing of the documents, few days away from the anniversary of the summit of the leaders, will enable the area respond robustly to the current challenges of the maritime sector which has been held hostage by “people who have taken over our common waterways.”

Secretary General of ECCAS Ahmad ALLAM-MI signed for the organisation while Mrs Florentina Adenike Ukonga, the Deputy Executive Secretary for the Gulf of Guinea Commission, signed for the organisation.

The Chief Executives allocated the position of Executive Director of the ICC to West Africa while the Deputy will come from ECCAS.
-0- PANA SEG 6June2014

06 juin 2014 13:41:37

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