Following the first successful prosecution of piracy crimes in Africa by Nigeria through the implementation of the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act (SPOMO Act), the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Ms Ghada Fathi Wali, yesterday lauded Nigeria over its leadership role and commitment towards curbing maritime crimes.
Wali gave the commendation in New York and noted that the successful collaboration between Nigeria and UNODC as evidenced by the Global Maritime Crime Programme and the Strategic Vision for Africa launched in 2021, had encouraged the organisation to extend its partnership beyond national governments to regional organisations.
A statement issued by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) said one of the gaps identified by the federal government in the fight against maritime crimes was the weak legal and institutional framework for prosecuting offenders.
In response, President Muhammadu Buhari, on June 24, 2019, assented to the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences (POMO) Bill.
By the POMO Act, Nigeria became the first country in the West and Central African sub-regions to promulgate a stand-alone law against piracy.
The Act also domesticates, as required, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), 1982 and the Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation (SUA), 1988.
In July 2021, under the POMO Act, the federal government secured the successful prosecution of 10 pirates for the first time anywhere in Africa.
But aside creating a legal and institutional framework for prosecuting maritime crimes, government also prioritised the provision of maritime intelligence facilities.
The statement noted that President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned a state-of-the-art maritime intelligence facility, Falcon Eye, at the Naval Headquarters in Abuja last year.
It said the set up and operationalisation of the project was facilitated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) as part of efforts to boost Nigeria’s overall maritime security architecture, in accordance with the National Security Strategy (NSS, 2019), under which kidnapping of oil workers, sea robbery/piracy, incessant problems of crude oil theft, illegal bunkering, hostage-taking and maritime terrorism are classified as national security threats.