UN Applauds FG’s Collaborative Effort to End Maritime Insecurity

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Ship owners decry illegal activities of poachers

Eromosele Abiodun and Kasim Sumaina in Abuja

The United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has commended Nigerian government’s efforts to tackle piracy and maritime crime.

UNODC also scored Nigeria high on efforts and collaborations to tackle maritime insecurity and smuggling of hard drugs in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG).

These observations were made by UNODC’s Country Director for Nigeria, Mr. Oliver Stolpe, when he briefed newsmen on the second day of the ongoing Global Maritime Security Conference in Abuja.

Stolpe also applauded Nigeria for enacting a distinct antipiracy law to broadly confront the problem of piracy and crimes on the country’s territorial waters and exclusive economic zone.

President Muhammadu Buhari assented to the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Act 2019 on June 24, 2019, which distinguished Nigeria as the first country in West and Central Africa to have a standalone antipiracy law.

The drafting of the antipiracy Act was facilitated by Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in collaboration with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

Stolpe said: “We need to recognise the things that have been done right, that is the Suppression of Piracy Act that was passed by the Nigerian government, which for the first time gives a comprehensive framework to tackle the issue of piracy and, more broadly, maritime crimes. We are on a good path. The big issue now is the follow up to that, which is the prosecutions.”

He said the GMSC was a crucial step in the attempt to deal with insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea.

Stolpe, who addressed the press conference alongside the Programme Officer at the UNODC Office in Nigeria, Mr. Giuseppe Sernia, identified the “extremely fragmented” nature of the legal framework regulating the maritime domain as one of the major challenges in the Gulf of Guinea.

He observed that gaps existed in terms of the countries signing on to the conventions and those that actually put them into domestic legislations and policies.

He said the Gulf of Guinea was targeted for trafficking in hard drugs by sea, especially cocaine, as exemplified with huge seizures that were recently made in Cape Verde, where almost 10 tons of cocaine were seized.

Meanwhile, the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) has decried the illegal activities of poachers operating at the Nigeria sea without any attempt at stopping them.

President of SOAN, Mrs. Margaret Onyema-Orakwusi, has called for regional corporations in order to tackle the menace posed by the poachers when she spoke at the sideline of the ongoing global maritime security conference.

Orakwusi said that it is unacceptable for foreigners to invade Nigeria’s waterways and poach our fishes without any attempt at stopping them.

She lamented that these poachers “steal our fishes” and sell them to the international community without following the rules and regulation guiding fishing activities in the world.

She further stated that the alleged illegal activities perpetrated by Asians and Europeans cost Nigeria billions in dollars.

Onyema-Orakwusi also queried how the poachers managed to sell their stolen products without being arrested them or anyone tracing the origin of the fishes they brought to the international market.

She, therefore, called on European Union and the United Nations to come and rescue African waters by ensuring that the activities of these poachers are checked.

“Nigeria don’t have the capacity to checkmate the activities of fish poachers at the sea and that is why they invade our waters and go scot-free,” she explained.