The littoral states in the Gulf of Guinea Region, that is West Africa and its trading partners lost about $2.3billion to Maritime Crimes between 2016 and 2018, the Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), Prof. Mohammed Tawfiq Ladan has said.
Ladan, stated this while speaking at the ninth Strategic Admiralty Law Seminar for Judges organised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in collaboration with the NIALS.
He said the countries lost about $777 million between 2015 and 2018 annually, in addition to human cost as the Gulf of Guinea experienced an escalation of privacy, kidnapping and armed robbery at sea incidents in 2018 and 2019.
According to him, “The choice of this year’s theme was necessitated by the obvious fact of the coming into force of the 1st stand-alone Anti-sea Piracy and maritime crimes law in the Gulf of Guinea aimed at stemming the waves/tides of acts of sea piracy and armed robbery and other challenges of maritime safety and security that hamper sustainable economic growth and development of all the littoral states in the Gulf of Guinea Region.
“A 2018 Maritime Crime report released as at May 2019, shows that Nigeria, with a coastline of about 853km, has been tagged as a privacy hotspot, by the International Maritime Bureau because in the first Quarter of 2018, Nigeria alone accounts for 22 out of 66 piracy and armed robbery at sea incidents and 8 of l 1 vessels fired upon globally.
“In 2019, IMF (Q3) report revealed that Lagos sea port recorded 11 of such incidents making it the highest globally. The Gulf of Guinea is home to Nigeria, the largest economy and the most populous nation in Africa, whose economy generates more than 70 per cent of the seaborne trade in West Africa and Gulf of Guinea because about 90 per cent of global trade is carried out by the international shipping industry for import/export of goods.”
In his opening remark, the Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dakuku Peterside, lamented the deficit in legislation put in place to address and combat the challenges of maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG).
He said, “With the world’s waters accounting over 80 per cent of transportation requirements in the global trading supply chain network across established international routes and trade lanes, the threats of piracy, armed robbery at sea and other maritime crimes have been an issue of global concern.
“The Gulf of Guinea sadly, had been at the epi-centre of maritime security discussions globally, given the incidents recorded in the region.
“The challenge of maritime insecurity in the region had been further compounded by a deficit of legislation to address the challenge. With the signing into law by Mr. President on the 24th of June, 20l9, the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act, facilitated by NIMASA, there is now a robust and detailed framework in place for the criminalisation and punishment of piracy and other maritime crimes in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea.”
He said the seminar was instituted by NIMASA in 2009 for judges in line with the Agency’s broad mandate to promote the development of shipping and capacity building in the maritime sector.
“The initial target were Judges of the Federal High Court in view of the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal High Court under Section 25 (l) (g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria I999 (as amended), over Admiralty matters. This scope subsequently expanded to include judges of the State High Court of the littoral States and later Justices of the Court of Appeal, mindful also of their strategic roles in the dispensation of justice, “he stated.