By Taiye Elebiyo-Edeni
The Nigeria Navy has called for regional and inter-regional collaboration among West and Central African countries to reduce piracy.
Rear.Adm. Adeniyi Osinowo, the Chief of Training and Operations, Naval Headquarters on Thursday in Abuja made the suggestion in a paper entitled; “Combating the Menace of Piracy and other Maritime Crimes in Africa’’.
The paper was presented at the ongoing Association of Africa Maritime Administrations (AAMA) Conference in Abuja.
He said between 2003 and 2016, Somalia recorded 539 pirate attacks on vessels, while the Gulf of Aden/Red Sea recorded 381 attacks.
The navy chief said Equatorial Guinea and Congo recorded one incident of pirate attacks each in the period under review.
According to him, between January 2016 and February 2017, reported attacks on vessels in Nigerian water were 83 out of which 47 attacks were successful.
Osinowo added that there should be inter-agency coordination at national level as well as a sustainable database management on piracy.
“Piracy begins and ends ashore. There should be preventive strategy based on identification of vessels and persons of interest.
“There should also be inter-agency coordination at the national level. Maritime Administrations (MARADs) have important role to play in information sharing.
“There should be political will to domesticate anti-piracy law and come up with effective prosecution process“, the navy chief said.
He said maritime crimes included money laundering, illegal arms and drug trafficking, piracy and armed robbery at sea and crude oil theft.
According to Osinowo, other crimes are maritime terrorism, human trafficking and smuggling by sea, illegal unregulated, unreported fishing (IUUF) and environmental crimes.
Mr William Azuh, Head of Africa Section, Technical Cooperation Division, International Maritime Organisation (IMO), talked about 2050 Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy (2050 AIM Strategy).
Azuh explained that the 2050 AIM Strategy was launched in January 2015 at the 22nd Ordinary Session of AU Assembly.
According to him, it is an overarching maritime strategy for Africa 2015-2025 Decade of African Seas and Oceans.
He explained that July 25 of every year had been set aside as “Africa Day of the Seas and Oceans.’’
Azuh said 2050 AIM Strategies included establishing a Combined Exclusive Maritime Zone of (CEMZA)
“Engaging civil societies and all other stakeholders to improve awareness on maritime issues, enhancing political will at community, national, regional and continental levels.
“Enhancing wealth creation, and regional and international trade performance through maritime-centric capacity and capability building.
“Ensuring security and safety of maritime transportation systems. Minimising environmental damage and expedite recovery from catastrophic events.
“Preventing hostile and criminal acts at sea, coordinate and harmonise the prosecution of the offenders’’, he said.
“Protecting populations, assets and critical infrastructure from maritime pollution and dumping of toxic and nuclear wastes.
“Improving Integrated Coastal Zone and Area Management in Africa,’’ Azuh said.
He urged maritime administrations to include July 25 of every year in their calendar and celebrate it with maritime and shipping-related activities through symposia, workshops, seminars and outreach programmes.
He also called for creation of interactive media platforms or social media such as Facebook, Twitter etc’’, he added. (NAN)