The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Inter Regional Coordination Centre (ICC) Yaounde, Cameroun have announced plans to form a framework to provide shared awareness as part of efforts to stem the rising attacks and kidnapping of seafarers and merchant vessels operating in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) with the creation of Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum.
In a communiqué issued on Monday, the parties described the number of attacks and kidnapping in the Gulf of Guinea region as alarming and needs urgent attention.
It said building on announcement made at the G7++ Friends of Gulf of Guinea (FOGG) in December 2020, the Executive Director of the Inter Regional Coordination Centre (ICC) Yaounde, Admiral Narciso Fastudo, Jr and the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, have held meetings to explore how to adopt a truly integrated approach to the operational challenge of tackling the problem of piracy and armed robbery.
According to the communiqué, the Forum will focus on counter- piracy and armed robbery by bringing together regional, international, industry and NGO partners to advance and coordinate near term maritime activities with a view to working toward a set of common operational objectives in order to protect seafarers and ships operating off the coast of West and Central Africa
“It is recognised that the synergy of the Yaounde structure and extensive effort by Nigerian officials to reduce the number of attacks through the delivery of its deep blue project is a forceful combination.
“It is proven practice that maritime stakeholders working together in delivering collaborative action works. Some stakeholders hold real-time information at sea while others have operational capacity and means. It is therefore with urgency that stakeholders with an interest in the GoG maritime security jointly agree and implement appropriate solutions to reduce the harms to seafarers. It is also recognised that countries beyond the immediate region are looking for ways and means to contribute to this effort and a sustainable mechanism to do this is needed.
“In the spirit of mutual cooperation and building on international best practice, the ICC Yaounde and Nigeria intend to form a framework to provide shared awareness and deconfliction of activities in the GoG with the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum (GOG-MCF/SHADE). This initiative will be open to all GoG countries with similar capacities to join on a voluntary basis,” the communiqué stated.
The parties said they plan to hold the first GoG-MCF/SHADE online meeting in no distant time with support from G7++FOGG just as they lauded maritime stakeholders for their support and urged them to be involved in the effort to reduce regional maritime insecurity.
Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Jamoh, in a tweet expressed delight over the development, saying, “For the first time in our maritime history, NIMASA, Navy in collaboration with the ICC will now jointly lead the effort alongside other nations to tackle piracy through a well-thought out framework that will corral all our capabilities,”