WorldStage Newsonline– The United Nations Development Project (UNDP) says the activities of pirates in Gulf of Guinea (GoG) have persistently been in the downward trends in the past three years.
The UNDP Team Lead, Governance, Peace and Security, Mr Matthew Alao, said this at the opening of a Week Residency Maritime Rules of Engagement Course on Interception and Counter Piracy Operations in GoG on Monday in Abuja.
The course was organised by the Martin Luther Agwai International Leadership and Peacekeeping Centre (MLAILPKC) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Project (UNDP) with support from the Government of Japan..
Alao said the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) of the International Chambers of Commerce (ICC) 2022 annual report indicated that 115 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships and seafarers were recorded globally in 2022 compared to 132 recorded in 2021.
He said the report stated that the GoG continued to experience desirable reduction in maritime crimes in 2022 as the region accounted for 19 incidents as against 35 incidents recorded in 2021.
The feat, according to him, was achieved through unrelenting efforts, partnerships and investments against piracy by the Member States particularly Nigeria.
“The Nigerian Navy is living up to expectations, up its game against pirates and are recording resounding success in its fights against the menace of pirates.
“Thanks to the Nigerian Navy and other maritime actors for achieving this feat and we urge you to continue in the positive trend.
“As the ICC-IMB report advised, sustained efforts are required to ensure the continued safety of seafarers and ships in GoG region which remains dangerous,” he said.
Participants and guests at the opening of a Week Residency Maritime Rules of Engagement Course on Interception and Counter Piracy Operations in Gulf of Guinea on Monday in Abuja.
Also said the weeklong course would afford the participants opportunity to be familiar with the residency maritime rules of engagement and gain knowledge on interception and counter piracy operations to reinforce the imperative of keeping the GoG safe and secure for international business and commerce.
He said the course, being the fourth in the series had been organised by MLAILPKC in partnership with GoG Member States, the Ministry of Budget and National Planning (MBNP), the Nigerian Navy and other national stakeholders.
According to him, the course is part of the general and specific efforts by the Nigerian government aimed at curtailing the influence of pirates and equally assist to step up actions to mitigate the effect of their activities in GOG.
“This reasonably accounts for the funding of this by the Government of Japan, and technical and operational assistance of UNDP Nigeria through MLAILPKC.
“This course builds on the achievements recorded in the past three courses conducted by the Centre in partnership with Nigerian Navy,” he added.
The Chief Of Training, Army Headquarters, Maj.-Gen. Sani Mohammed, said the Gulf of Guinea had witnessed several trans- shipping and fishing activities with huge developmental impacts on the economies of member countries.
Mohammed, who was represented by the Deputy Chief of Training, Courses and Examination, Maj.-Gen. Olusegun Abai, said the developments were however challenged by series of Maritime and Transnational Organized Crimes (MTOCS).
He said that piracy, human trafficking/smuggling, terrorism at sea, money laundering, illegal unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF) and illegal bunkering amongst others had bedeviled the region.
According to him, creating a safe maritime environment for trading along the gulf has become the focal point for the various GoG governments.
“The overall objective of the Anti-Piracy Course is to develop the human capacity necessary to mitigate MTOC.
“It is aimed at preparing security and other relevant agencies on how to ensure safety and security the maritime domain,” he said.
Mohammed urged participants to give good account of themselves and also be good ambassadors of their various agencies and commended the UNDP and Government of Japan for their unflinching support towards developing human capacity in the maritime domain.
The Commandant of MLAILPKC, Maj.-Gen. Parker Undiandeye, said the maritime domain and the GoG had remained critical sectors in global trade and commerce, being one of the earliest routes for human interconnectivity and a precursor to current economic globalisation.
Undiandeye said the trade along the seas routes and lanes like the China Sea, Gulf of Mexico, Gulf of Aden and Gulf of Guinea amongst others had brought about global economic prosperity with increased relationship between nations.
He said the increasing rise in piracy had threatened the maritime domain, which accounts for a great percentage of global merchandise distribution and exchanges.
According to him, apart from endangering lives and properties, incessant pirate attacks have resulted in increased maritime insurance costs, higher prices for goods and merchandise and the growth of regional illicit markets in clandestine goods and services.
“Ultimately, costs associated with piracy and other TOCs are passed on and borne by the final consumers in the GoG littoral states.
“It is against this backdrop that MLAILPKC and Government of Japan through the UNDP is conducting this course.
“During the period of training, participants will be required to bring their wealth of experiences, competencies and expertise to bear on discussions during the Course.
“The Centre will expect positive contributions to those your discussions in order to add value to the Course.
“So, I implore you, to actively participate and contribute positively during the Course.
“We will also request that you point out areas of improvement to us as we continue to strive to become better than we currently are, and possibly attain the position of the best in the World,” he said.