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GoG: Would Denmark take the law into its hand?

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GoG: Would Denmark take the law into its hand?

Immediate past Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dakuku Peterside has alerted Nigerians on need to monitor the activities of Denmark to ensure that continental interest is not compromised.

Dakuku highlighted this in a statement, pointing out that last week, Denmark took a decision that unwittingly heat up the Gulf of Guinea.

“Last week, something with significant but far-reaching diplomatic implications happened in security circles, particularly in the maritime security sphere. Denmark, a tiny European community of 5.3m people, less than the size and population of Rivers State in Nigeria, resolved to send a frigate to patrol and police Gulf of Guinea waters.

“The decision follows a call for a more assertive response to the embarrassing high level of sea crime, piracy and kidnapping for ransom taking place in the region for which international perception puts Nigeria at the centre.

“According to the Danish Minister of Defence, Trine Bramsen, “This is initiated because the maritime security is challenged. Pirates are behind several severe kidnappings in the area.

“It threatens the security of Danish and foreign crews. In such a situation we cannot and shall not just watch. We must stand up for the right to free navigation. The Danish Navy has previously proved to be strong and important in the combating of the pirates.

“However, if we are really going to get security under control in the Gulf of Guinea an international military presence is necessary. From the Danish side, we try to have more countries taking responsibility,” the former DG indicated.

The problem of piracy and maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea seems not to have received the attention it deserves. The region is the hotbed of piracy and maritime crime  – nowhere else in the world do pirates strike more often than the Gulf of Guinea. According to the International Maritime Bureau in its 2020 annual report, 95% of the 135 seafarers seized worldwide were kidnapped in the gulf in 22 separate incidents .

Pirates took the hostages to the creeks in the Niger Delta, where stakeholders negotiate ransom.

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The Gulf of Guinea is proving more dangerous than even the Somali coast. Last January, a regular script played out when the container ship MV Mozart was more than 200 nautical miles off the Nigerian coast when the pirates struck out of nowhere. According to news reports, there were dramatic scenes on board the vessel with the ship’s crew cowered in a safe room fearing for their lives and the pirates quietly set about their work getting to them.

The criminals spent six hours before they were able to open the Citadel door and were able to snuff life out of one crew member while kidnapping 15 others. Allegedly, the pirates got a ransom before they released the seafarers they abducted.

The Gulf of Guinea is considered a strategic location due to its natural resources, so it remains a critical maritime route for international shipping from Europe to America, to West, Central and Southern Africa. The region’s importance in the global energy supply is evident in its proximity to Europe and North America to transport crude oil and gas from the area. It is estimated that at least 20% of Europe’s oil and gas comes from the Gulf of Guinea.

Maritime transport itself is necessary for the stability of Nigeria’s economy. And the country as a coastal and an import-oriented state depends primarily on international shipping for revenue from the mining of natural resources, mainly crude oil. Also, the activities of maritime criminals on the country’s coastal waters have resulted in economic sabotage that affects the country’s image on the international scene. Nigeria loses 150,000 barrels of crude oil every day to oil thieves, which amounts to about N2.5 billion daily, and over N900 billion annually.

It is understandable why the Danes would be interested in protecting the Gulf of Guinea’s dangerous waters. Copenhagen-based Maersk, the world’s biggest shipping company, is responsible for more than a third of maritime trade in the Gulf of Guinea. Simultaneously, as many as 40 Danish-operated vessels sail through the area daily. However, it is disturbing that we need foreigners before we can secure our waters. The attendant security implications are dire, and the consequent perpetuation of our country’s perception as largely dysfunctional does us no good.

This plan of action has far-reaching implications for Nigeria’s status, stature, and sovereignty, and I will share a few here. First, the country faces severe security challenges on all fronts that have questioned our capacity to manage security in our country.

The security challenge manifests as Boko Haram, farmer-herdsmen clashes, kidnapping for ransom, and ethnic tension. Some international institutions have even derided us as being at the “early stage of a failed state”.

Added to these other security challenges is a spike in maritime insecurity. This is a challenge that will diminish the confidence of the international community in our country.

Second, Denmark’s action, supported by the international shipping community allegedly because international ship traffic is threatened by criminal activities, is technically branding Nigeria and sister countries around the Gulf of Guinea as having failed to police their territorial waters, which confers their true sovereignty.

By international law,  it is when a country or a region fails or is failing in her primary responsibility of securing its waters that international partners can give support. How can countries in the Gulf of Guinea region, especially Nigeria, be candidates for the international community’s sympathy?

There has been the lame argument that Denmark’s action is outside the territorial waters of any particular country in the region. It is evident that global naval action at sea was prominent and successful at the Gulf of Eden to counter Somalia piracy because it was adjudged a failed state.

Third, any international naval intervention is an insult to our naval powers. Is it that our security agencies lack the capabilities and capacity to match and eliminate amateurish pirates and other criminals terrorising our waters?

Fourth, without security at sea, Nigeria would find it harder to achieve economic prosperity. Nigeria’s piracy problem is linked to the country’s dysfunctional oil industry and the violent activities in the Niger Delta and other parts of the country. Corruption, pervasive poverty, and weak law enforcement drive piracy and insecurity.

Some government officials – Maritime professionals , naval and paramilitary law enforcement personnel allegedly collude with pirates and criminals generally by providing them with insider information that aids their nefarious activities and getting a share of the ransom in return.

Fifth, the reputation of Nigeria among the comity of nations is at stake. When small countries like Denmark provide security in the Gulf of Guinea, what does that say about Nigeria’s image as Africa’s economic giant? Nigeria built a strong reputation as a regional power within the subregion in the recent past.

But with the current insecurity and piracy, this reputation is gradually fading away. It is high time Nigeria worked collaboratively with sister nations around the Gulf of Guinea to provide adequate security for the maritime sector. This can be done when the ancillary factors leading to maritime insecurity are resolved.

An excellent strategic security plan should be developed, implemented, and evaluated to provide adequate security in the region and across the country.

I must point out that I am not against foreign countries coming to help states of the region to provide security in the Gulf of Guinea or elsewhere. Still, I feel that Nigeria should play the lead role in a coalition of naval security apparatus from the international community to provide security in the Gulf of Guinea.

Suppose individual foreign state actors intervene unilaterally, although, with good intentions, it has global security and bilateral relations consequences.  If Nigeria and other GoG states keep allowing foreign countries to police her waters now, it may have to surrender her total sovereignty to them in time?

A pertinent question arises at this point: has Nigeria failed in its primary responsibility of maintaining law and order in our territorial waters? I do not think so, save that we have treated the situation with the same lackadaisical approach with which we treat most national issues.

I am aware that NIMASA working with the Navy and other sister security agencies, put in place a new maritime security architecture code-named the Deep blue project.

This is an end-to-end solution covering intelligence, response capacity including assets acquisition, training and interagency/ inter-country collaboration, but the execution so far seems to have gone awry. The programme has turned into an instrument of testing high wired intrigues in political circles. Not even the total commitment of the Minister of transportation and Incumbent Director-General of

NIMASA has helped matters.

The Navy, on her part, has embarked on several special operations in the past two years that ordinary observers may have lost count of such specific and unique operations, from Exercise Shark Shiver, Exercise prosperity to Exercise Nemo.

To tackle piracy, we need to address the problem of pervasive poverty, unemployment, inequality, and corruption in the country, especially in the Niger Delta region.

If the youths do not have access to legitimate means of earning income, some will likely take to crime and criminality. Grievances among marginalised coastal communities in the Niger Delta should be investigated so that most restive youths in the region can pursue legitimate means of livelihood and escape the cycle of deprivation that exposes them to crime. Provision of social amenities and job creation would be vital in tackling piracy.

The military should be provided with better equipment to fight pirates and armed robbers at sea. The Nigerian Navy has shown its military prowess in fighting piracy within the Niger Delta and the Gulf of Guinea. However, fighting crime at sea requires teamwork that should involve other stakeholders and other security agencies in a coordinated manner.

We also need to enforce our existing laws to bring arrested pirates to book and deter would-be pirates. The SPOMO Act 2019, enacted by the government with NIMASA as major facilitator , should consistently be enforced whenever pirates are arrested. The scourge of piracy and armed robbery at sea cannot be tackled by the federal government alone. States and companies operating in the region should join hands with the lead state institutions in tackling piracy and other maritime crimes that have constituted a dark cloud over our land .

In conclusion, we have enough problems at hand, and we should quickly arrest this deteriorating darkness at sea so we can focus all our efforts in-stamping out insecurity on land

 

 

By Dakuku Peterside

 

 

Maritime

Yaya Dillo: Implication of Assassination for Chad and its ruling elite!

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Days after the killing of Chad opposition politician Yaya Dillo, in disputed circumstances, many analysts in the conflict-racked Central African nation have expressed concerns about how his allies, powerful relatives, and rivals will react.

The Chadian government has said that Dillo was killed in an exchange of gunfire with security forces on Feb. 28. It said members of his Socialist Party Without Borders had earlier attacked the internal security agency where several people were killed.

Following this, heavy gunfire was heard in Chad’s capital N’Djamena near the headquarters of Dillo’s Socialist Party Without Borders.

The violence comes amid tensions ahead of a presidential election set for May and June that could return the Central African state to constitutional rule three years after military authorities seized power.

*Yaya Dillo

Accounts of the incident given by the government and the party have differed.

A government statement said the agency was attacked by representatives of the opposition party, led by its leader Yaya Dillo, resulting in several deaths.

Detailing a separate incident, the government said a member of the party, Ahmed Torabi, had carried out an assassination attempt against the president of the Supreme Court, Samir Adam Annour. Torabi was arrested, it said.

The opposition party’s general secretary told reporters that the deaths near the security agency occurred when soldiers opened fire at a group of party members.

But the FACT opposition rebel group and the CNRD opposition party have called it an assassination and analysts say the circumstances are unclear.

The capital N’Djamena was quiet two days after the death, though residents said security forces were deployed in key locations and soldiers searched for weapons at checkpoints overnight. Access to the internet has been cut.

The May and June votes were meant to draw a line under three years of military rule by transitional President Mahamat Idriss Deby, who seized power after his long-ruling father was killed in clashes with rebels in April 2021.

Deby junior, who is standing in the vote, has since faced street protests against delays in the elections and has had to bring some members of the opposition into his government, under moves to ease tensions brokered by regional leaders.

The United Nations and regional leaders have called for calm and urged Chadians to focus on the vote.

The violence this week has further exposed the complex ethnic and family ties that make up Chadian elite politics.

Deby senior had concentrated military and political power around his Zaghawa ethnic group.

His son has struggled to maintain that unity, and divisions have emerged, with some family members openly opposing him.

Dillo, the opposition leader who was killed, is from the same clan – believed to be a cousin or nephew of Deby junior – and his death has triggered anger within the family.

Exacerbating these concerns, the transitional president’s uncle, Gen. Saleh Deby Itno, last week defected to Dillo’s party and was reportedly subsequently detained.

Roland Marchal, a Chad expert at the Centre for International Studies (CERI) at Sciences Po Paris, said the fact that Saleh joined Dillo’s party was a signal that some in the extended family were extremely unhappy.

“The killing of Dillo is a sign of weakness. Dillo is not very popular in Chad so why take such extreme measures against him?” Marchal said.

Security sources say Deby Junior has sought to stamp his authority on the security forces, including by creating new units loyal to him.

As Islamist militancy spread across much of West Africa during the last decade, Chad has established itself as a key partner for Western and regional militaries.

Former colonial power France still has 1,000 troops and warplanes based there, even as it has been forced to withdraw from Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso due to rising anti-French sentiment in the region.

The United States has had drones based in Chad. N’Djamena also hosts the headquarters of the regional counter-terrorism task force.

Positioned between Libya and Sudan, Chad’s remote borderlands are often used by smugglers and armed groups operating in regional conflicts.

Most recently, United Nations experts said that Chad has been used as a route to supply crucial weapons from the United Arab Emirates to the RSF, the militia that has been fighting the Sudanese army since April 2023.

However, the UAE has denied this. Chad hosts nearly 700,000 Sudanese refugees from this conflict.

With the elections in Chad just around the corner and the killing of Dillo coming at this time, analysts say the African continent may be on the verge of witnessing the unveiling of yet another theatre of unrest. 

  • NANFeatures
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Rice Wahala: How Smugglers Nearly Killed Me, Customs Officer Tells Court

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An Assistant Superintendent of Customs, Mr Amos Ekundayo told a Federal High Court in Ibadan how a gang of rice smugglers attempted to kill him after shooting him in the head.

Ekundayo was led in evidence by Mr Michael Osug, the prosecution in the case filed against two suspected rice smugglers; Waliu Ayodeji and Lateef Odugbemi before Justice E.K. Akpan on Friday.

Ayodeji and Odugbemi were apprehended on May 22 2023 in the Igbo Ora area of Oyo State.

They had pleaded not guilty to attempted murder, unlawful importation of foreign rice, and conspiracy.

“I was one of the customs officers on patrol on May 22, 2023, when we were informed that a gang of smugglers were operating on the Ologbojo-Tapa road which is under the Igbo-ora area.

“On getting there with the other members of the team, I attempted to address the members of the gang.

”However, they told me that the only person who can address them was Sunday Igboho.

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“Before I knew what was happening, they shot me in the head and my back.,” Ekunday said.

He showed the court the three different spots where he was allegedly shot.

The witness also stated that he was taken to the Lago State University Teaching Hospital for medical attention.

He added that he spent eight days in the hospital before being discharged.

“During our investigation, we found out that the two defendants and others, now at large had smuggled 144 bags of per boiled rice from Cotonou, Benin Republic,” the customs officer said.

In his testimony, Mr Ganiu Salami, an informant to the Nigeria Customs Service said that he knew the two defendants as smugglers and that he informed the customs operatives about the May 22 2023 event.

“After the customs operatives accosted the gang of smugglers, the second defendant, Odugbemi pointed his gun and shot at Ekunday.

He tendered the medical report issued by the hospital in respect of the shooting before the court as an exhibit.

However, counsel to the first and second defendants, Mr. A.A. Okelola and Mr Adewale Ishola prayed the court not to admit the medical report tendered by Salami on the ground that it was not a certified true copy.

In their separate arguments, Okelola and Ishola said that the medical report was a mere coloured photocopy document.

In a counter-argument, the prosecution counsel, Osug said that the document that was tendered was original.

Finally, the court admitted the document as an exhibit against the defendants.

The judge adjourned the matter until March 23 for continuation of trial. 

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UNIPORT: NIMASA Intensifies Capacity Development, Delivers Marine and Transport Technology Building

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The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has handed over, two ultra-modern complexes housing the Institute of Marine and Transport Technology to the Management of the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

According to Jamoh, the building which is a donation from NIMASA to the University, was the initiative of the previous leadership of the Agency, but on assumption, as the Director General he saw the need to review and commence the project.

*The Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, OFR (3rd right) presenting the keys of the Ultra-Modern Complex housing the Institute of Marine and Transport Technology donated by NIMASA, to the Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Clifford Ofurum, while others look on in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.



He said, “The initiative dates back to 2012/2013 when the then DG of the Agency decided to build a maritime training institute. The initiative is not peculiar to Uniport but is present in all the six geopolitical zones of the country. Any investment in education is worthwhile.

The Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, OFR and others during the presentation of the keys the Ultra-Modern Complex housing the Institute of Marine and Transport Technology, donated by NIMASA to the University of Port Harcourt in Rivers State.

” Research has shown that lack of education is relatively responsible for maritime crimes in the Niger Delta Region. We hope beneficiaries of this Maritime institute will be instrumental in making Nigeria a major maritime nation”, he said.



The Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Abraham Georgewill, who was represented by the VC Administration, Prof. Clifford Ofurum thanked NIMASA for selecting Uniport as the location for the Maritime Institute, assuring that the University will provide adequate faculty to ensure courses are accredited and recognized globally.

*The Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, OFR (3rd right), Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Port Harcourt, Prof. Clifford Ofurum (4th left) and others during the presentation of the keys the Ultra-Modern Complex housing the Institute of Marine and Transport Technology, donated by NIMASA to the University of Port Harcourt in Rivers State.

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