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‘How Nigeria, others can check economic loss from insecurity in Gulf of Guinea’

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Major stakeholders in the maritime industry have decried the spate of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, identifying several factors that may have contributed to the lingering attacks on ships and seafarers in recent times.

Stakeholders, who spoke at the Maritime Virtual Breakfast Meeting (MVBF) organised by the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping (NCS), said security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea have led to continued economic loss to the region and Nigeria.

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In a communiqué issued after the meeting, the group listed the causes of security threats in the Gulf of Guinea and gave recommendations towards ensuring safer waterways.

The communiqué identified the causes to include legal and jurisdictional weaknesses, inadequate security, underfunded law enforcement/security agencies, natural resource mismanagement, poor governance as well as a failure of social and economic development among others.

President of the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping, Andy Isichei, highlighted the importance of shipping trade to national economic growth and development.

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He emphasized that failure to proffer solutions to the security menace in the Gulf of Guinea would lead to continued economic loss to the region and by extension Nigeria.

General-Secretary of the Maritime Security Providers Association of Nigeria (MASPAN), Emmanuel Maiguwa, who was the keynote speaker, said it was important to have a centralised intelligence system to identify people and assets in the maritime domain, and a transparent judicial process in curbing the security unrest in the Gulf of Guinea.

The meeting, which had in attendance, NIMASA, NIWA, the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), the Nigerian Navy and the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), adopted recommendations on addressing the security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea. They include the need for full implementation of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) as well as Automatic Identification System (AIS) and provision of a centralized intelligence and access control mechanism across regions.

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They also suggested the role of a regional information-sharing centre like Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea (MDAT-GoG) should be enhanced as a supportive measure to improve information sharing.

The meeting also sought for full deployment of the newly acquired Deep Blue Assets by NIMASA in collaboration with the Nigerian Navy and other security agencies; adoption and successful implementation of a justice system that ensures pirates are arrested, evidence collected and preserved for successful prosecution; strategic degradation and regulation of the use of water.

Among the recommendations was that the fight against piracy in Nigeria and the entire Gulf of Guinea should be through consultation rather than confrontation and partnership other than unilateral decisions; effective securing of the inland waterways making it impossible for the pirates to carry out their inland crafts, and creation of jobs to engage people as a way of curtailing the economic hardships luring idle minds into piracy activities.

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