PIRACY: Participants At GMSC Seek Creation of Special Maritime Courts


Delegates at the Global Maritime Security Conference (GMSC) yesterday issued a communiqué, calling on Gulf of Guinea (GoG) states to explore the possibility of designated maritime courts to handle cases of sea robbery, piracy and other maritime offences to ensure quick dispensation of cases.

The conference also called for capacity building and sensitisation of judiciary on crucial relevant legislation concerning maritime safety and security.

The three days conference held from Monday 7th to Wednesday 9th October, at the International Conference Centre in Abuja, with a firm declaration to globally criminalise acts of insecurity and proceeds from illegal maritime activities from the zone as was with the case of the “Blood Diamonds”

In the communiqué, termed “Abuja Declaration” on the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) crisis at the end of the conference, which was attended by delegates from about 80 countries, the conferees also agreed to constitute a “GMSC expert working group” to drive the implementation of the decisions arising from the gathering in liaison with ECOWAS, ECCAS, ICC, and other international partners.  

The communiqué session chaired by the Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, and read by Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, in front of about 2000 participants from nearly 80 countries, resolved that “Gulf of Guinea States and the international community should put mechanisms in place to ensure that resources that are illegally harvested/explored in the GoG, including stolen oil and Illegal Unreported and Unregulated Fishery, are intentionally banned as was the case with the ‘blood diamonds’”, the communique said.

The conference called for collaboration among the navies, coast guards, and maritime authorities of countries in the Gulf of Guinea and other continental and international maritime nations. It said countries in the Gulf of Guinea should intensify maritime capacity and infrastructure building efforts to push the objectives effectively.

It further urged the GoG states to put more efforts to implement various agreed strategies at the continental, regional and national levels. “GoG States with the support of regional organisations like the ECOWAS, ECCAS, ICC and relevant international organisations should continue to ratify and fully domesticate the provisions of the relevant international conventions including UNCLOS 1982, SUA and Port States Measures Agreement.”

It also said, “GoG States should strengthen, including funding, national, zonal and regional maritime domain awareness centres to enhance information sharing and coordination”.

The GoG States were encouraged to sustain regular meeting of heads of states, heads of navies/coast guards and other maritime enforcement agencies on issues of maritime security for mutual benefit. In addition, relevant regional maritime agencies, industry experts/representatives were charged to come up with informed policy decisions on maritime security and related issues.

The conference equally noted, “GoG States should engage in maritime spatial planning of coastal and urban areas to ensure that maritime security vulnerabilities are not created particularly in proximity to critical maritime infrastructure.

“GoG States should explore opportunities for maritime law enforcement through targeted engagement with coastal and fishing communities to support maritime security efforts.”

Speaking during an international press conference to close the meeting, the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, emphasised the need for prompt actions to realise the implementation of the recommendations. Dakuku said the proposed expert working group should be established in the next few months.   

Earlier at a press briefing, Richard Morris of the United Kingdom Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) Programme, an arm of the British Ministry of Defence, called for teamwork among countries in the Gulf of Guinea. Morris called for deliberate efforts to dismantle legal, institutional, and territorial impediments to joint security actions in the region.

He noted that the British government was prepared to support countries in the region to achieve their maritime security aspirations. Earlier speakers from France, Demark, United States, Japan, the European Union, and a host of other countries pledged their readiness to contribute to the security efforts in the Gulf of Guinea.

The GoG conference with the theme, “Managing and Securing our Waters,” was convened by the Federal Ministry of Transportation, the Nigerian Navy, and NIMASA. It was aimed at finding solution to the problem of maritime insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea.      

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