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Gulf of Guinea: UN Official urges Stronger Action to Tackle Piracy 

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Gulf of Guinea: UN Official urges Stronger Action to Tackle Piracy 

A senior UN official, Ms. Martha Pobee has called on countries and their international partners to accelerate efforts to counter the singular threat of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

Pobee, an Assistant Secretary-General in the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) made the appeal while briefing the Security Council at UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday.

Presenting the Secretary-General’s latest report on the issue, Pobee warned of a shifting situation that would require greater response.

According to her, the decline in incidents is the result of concerted efforts by national authorities, supported by regional and international partners, both on land and at sea.

Actions such as increased patrols, deployment of naval assets, enhanced coordination, as well as convictions, have served as deterrents to criminal activity.

However, she said piracy in the Gulf of Guinea had morphed over this period.

“Pirate groups are adapting to changing dynamics both at sea and in coastal areas,” she said.

“In this respect, the recent decrease in instances of piracy may in part be attributable to the shift by criminal networks to other forms of maritime and riverine crime, such as oil bunkering and theft, which they likely view as both less risky and more profitable”.

She stressed that it was imperative for States and their regional and international partners to accelerate efforts to establish security in the Gulf of Guinea, as outlined in the Yaoundé Code of Conduct, signed in June 2013.

Pobee pointed to some of the achievements since then, such as the recent signing of an agreement to establish a Multinational Maritime Coordination Centre (MMCC) for a zone that covers Cabo Verde, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Mali and Senegal.

A maritime exercise involving 17 of the 19 countries that border the Gulf of Guinea, as well as eight international partners, was also conducted last in October over an area stretching from Senegal to Angola.

She also underscored the UN’s continued political and technical assistance to States, including through agencies such as the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

“At present, there is no firm evidence to suggest any potential or possible linkages between terrorist and pirate groups,” she told the Council.

“However, addressing the underlying social, economic, and environmental challenges faced by communities in the region will ultimately serve to contain both threats.”

Pobee said the UN is also strengthening collaboration with international financial institutions to support countries in addressing the underlying causes of fragility and security.

With the 10th anniversary of the Yaoundé framework approaching, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) chief, Ghada Waly while briefing pointed to the opportunity to dedicate greater attention, resources and action to supporting maritime security and the rule of law in the Gulf of Guinea.

She urged the international community to help governments develop their capacities and legal frameworks, with domestic laws that criminalise piracy and enable prosecution.

“We must improve investigation and prosecution capacities, to give teeth to enforcement efforts and reach a ‘legal finish’ to every case pursued,” she said.

Waly highlighted the need to be quick to respond to the shifting trends in piracy to “prevent the threat from simply taking a different form”.

She called for developing a regional framework to expand cooperation and urged vigilance against the possibility of terrorist groups in the Sahel linking up with criminal enterprises in coastal regions.

The UNODC Executive Director also underscored the crucial need to address the root causes of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea by working with vulnerable coastal communities.

These populations are also dealing with challenges such as environmental degradation and biodiversity loss, fuelled by climate change and illegal fishing.

“Criminals at sea must be stopped and held accountable, but to ensure a truly sustainable response, due attention must be paid to the people who may become such criminals, the factors that drive them to it, and the people most affected,” she said.

“We must pursue community-based crime prevention strategies and engage with at-risk and marginalised youth to cultivate personal and social skills, prevent risky behaviors, and grant them opportunities.”

Waly said UNODC is supporting the development of community-based crime prevention strategies in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, which she hopes will be replicated in other coastal communities.

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Traffic Flow: COMTUA, PSTT reconcile for Enhanced Efficiency

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Traffic Flow: COMTUA, PSTT reconcile for Enhanced Efficiency

The Council of Maritime Transport Unions and Associations (COMTUA) has reconciled its differences with the Presidential Special Task Team (PSTT), in a bid to ensure enhanced traffic flow.

The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has also stressed the need for bi-annual inspection of all boats operating in Lagos waters, in addition to, water guards being present in all jetties to ensure ferry Operators do not overload their boats.

 Announcing the reconciliation at its Annual Congress in Lagos, the COMTUA President, Prince Adeyinka Aroyewun said that COMTUA  purposely left  PSTT because the task force was derailing from its core functions while its performance was being exaggerated.

Aroyewun stated that these allegations made COMTUA pull out of PSTT.

The COMTUA President declared that the associations and the PSTT have now reconciled for effective collaboration in ensuring zero traffic at the port corridor.

 “We left the committee initially because the committee seems to be derailing. But over time, with our criticism and lots of efforts of the Nigerian Shippers Council, I think we are now on track. COMTUA sees the reason to collaborate with them especially when it comes to the area of traffic in the ports access roads. I want to believe that if we collaborate we will achieve more results than what we are seeing”,  Aroyewun stated.

He had earlier in his opening speech noted that the union’s engagements with the government and other stakeholders had led to the disbandment and suspension of several task forces and creation of functional and supportive bodies to assist their businesses. He promised to deliver on the union’s promise to bring everyone on board and attend to the needs of members.

 The National Coordinator of PSTT, Mr. Moses Fadipe, who represented the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) at the event, pointed out that the Committee has decided to welcome COMTUA back, for better relationship and engagement in achieving the goals and objectives of the team.

He emphasised that the Rules of Engagement of the team remain unchanged.

Fadipe, however, urged the union to strictly abide by the Rules of Engagement to avoid future disagreements.

“The COMTUA President said some time ago they left the Task Team because they felt they are not doing enough but now they said they are back.

“A father cannot have 20 children and wish that one will be out of the Palace. We have welcomed them back fully as the National Coordinator. I would convey the message to the Presidential Task Team. But be that as it may, our Rules of Engagement remain the same. It has never changed”,  Fadipe stressed.

 The Governor of Lagos State Babajide Sanwo-Olu stressed the importance of technology in the development of the haulage, logistics and transportation sector at large.

Represented by the General Manager, Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Mr. Damilola Emmanuel, the governor hinted that a bi-annual inspection of all boats is being carried out, and water guards are in all jetties to ensure people are not overloading their boats. He added that there is the introduction of fuel docks in Lagos, Eastern and Western axis to reduce the risk on the water.

The Special Adviser to the Governor, Lagos State Ministry of Transportation, Hon. Sola Giwa represented by Engr. Ojo Owuro commended the efforts and contributions of COMTUA to the development of transportation in Lagos.

 He announced that the Ministry has issued an approval recognising COMTUA as a single body.

He enjoined members of the Union to shun disunity but work together as a team.

COMTUA later presented awards to  Vice President of the Federation, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu,  Managing Director of NPA, Muhammed Bello-Koko and Executive Secretary of NSC, Hon. Emmanuel Jime.

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Health and Safety

Amotekun Recovers Ak-47 Rifles, Ammunition hidden in Oyo Forest

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Amotekun Recovers Ak-47 Rifles, Ammunition hidden in Oyo Forest

 The Oyo State wing of the Southwest Security Network (Amotekun Corps) has recovered AK-47 rifles, military camouflage and other items hidden in a forest in the state by suspected kidnappers.

Commandant of the corps in Oyo State, retired Col. Olayinka Olayanju, told newsmen in Ibadan on Monday that the corps recovered four AK-47 rifles, four magazines and 50 rounds of 7.62mm live ammunition.

Also recovered were wraps of Indian hemp, raincoats, two Nigerian Army caps, and a beret.

He said the items were recovered while operatives of the corps were combing forests following rising cases of kidnap on the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

“Last weekend, efforts of our men were rewarded when the arms and ammunition were found in one of the forests following a tip-off that some gunmen sighted in the area.

“The security network’s agents are still present in the forest to possibly apprehend the criminal elements,’’ he said.

In his remarks, Special Adviser to Gov. Seyi Makinde on Security Matters, retired Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, said the governor had directed security personnel in the state to take proactive steps to stop abductions in the state.

Owoseni said collaboration with local hunters and vigilantes assisted greatly in recent successes recorded by the Amotekun corps in the state.

He assured that the state government would provide the equipment needed for the smooth operation of the corps to enhance their performance.

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Health and Safety

Motor Park Attacks: Osun Police Recover 5 guns, Arrest 10 Suspects

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Motor Park Attacks: Osun Police Recover 5 guns, Arrest 10 Suspects

 The Osun Police Command on Monday said it had arrested 10 suspects over the attacks across some motor parks in the state on the premise of the forceful takeover of the parks.

SP Yemisi Opalola, the Command’s Spokesperson, in a statement, said five guns, nine live and four expended cartridges and five cutlasses were recovered from the suspects.

“This is to inform the general public that the Osun State Police Command is aware and frowns at the crises that erupted within the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in the state in the early hours of today (Monday).

The Commissioner of Police, the Area Commanders, Divisional Police Officers, and other stakeholders had met with the NURTW executive, members and other stake holders to avert the crisis and forceful take-over of the parks in the state.

“All consented to maintain peace, but it was a surprise to learn about the attacks by NURTW members in several parts of the state with attendant destruction of offices and injury to some persons and police personnel.

“The CP, Faleye Olaleye, swiftly charged the Area Commanders, Divisional Police Officers and Tactical Commanders to ensure the situation is brought under control and arrest culprits.

“Consequently, the Police operatives tactical operation led to the arrest of 10 suspects and recovery of one Barretta pistol, two Pump Action guns, two Barrel guns, nine live and four expended cartridges, five cutlasses and charms,” she said

She said the CP was, however, assuring the public that the command was fully on top of the situation as mobile, conventional, tactical and patrol teams had been deployed to curtail the crises.

The CP also advised members of the public to go about their lawful businesses without fear of insecurity or attacks.

He warned that anyone found culpable in the unwarranted violence and attacks would face the full wrath of the law.

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