As part of efforts to consolidate the move to ending the upsurge of maritime crimes, piracy and insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria has activated a bilateral agreement with the Equatorial Guinea on improving the security in the region.
The new agreement mandates both countries to embark on combined maritime and air patrols along the common maritime border.
This was disclosed in a statement issued in Abuja on Thursday by Cdr. Samuel Kure of Ministry of Defence who led the Nigerian delegation for the activation of the agreement.
The agreement, he said became necessary in view of the fact that over the last decade, the Gulf of Guinea had witnessed an upsurge in maritime crimes such as piracy, smuggling, illegal oil bunkering, trafficking in drugs, humans and arms, wildlife crime.
Both countries noted that the insecurity had attracted concern and also led to the elevation of marine insurance premiums to war risk status, thereby increasing shipping costs to countries in the region, especially Nigeria.
In a bid to enhance security in the Gulf of Guinea, on March 15, 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari and President Teodoro Obiang Mbasogo signed a Bilateral agreement for the establishment of a Combined Maritime Policing and Security Patrol Committee (CMPSPC ).
“This bilateral agreement between Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea marked an important milestone in maritime security cooperation. The CMPSPC is made up of equal representation from both countries.
“The Nigerian membership includes representatives of the Ministries of Defence, Foreign Affairs and Justice.
“Also represented are Defence and Service Headquarters, Defence Intelligence Agency, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Nigeria Police Force, Nigerian Immigration Service and the National Boundary Commission.
“The Nigerian delegation that has been in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea since Sept. 30, 2020 for the inaugural meeting of CMPSPC, concluded its assignment on Oct. 6, 2020 at the Sipopo Conference Centre, Malabo City,”it said.
According to the statement, Nigeria’s head of delegation Cdr. Kure along with other representatives, made robust contributions towards the smooth operationalisation of the agreement.
According to Commodore Kure, “these concrete steps towards operationalisation of the agreement demonstrate President Buhari’s commitment to enhance maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.”
He expressed concern that due to increase in crime activities in the Gulf of Guinea the insurance premium on cargo has gone up while shipping of goods into the country was high.
He said that Nigerian delegation was there to activate the agreement and work out modalities on its implementation which include funding.