The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on Monday called on all maritime stakeholders to step up efforts in combating piracy and all forms of crimes and criminalities in Gulf of Guinea (GoG) coastal areas.
The event was organised by the Martin Luther Agwai International Leadership and Peacekeeping Centre (MLAILPKC) in conjunction with UNDP and the Government of Japan with participants from Ghana, Republic of Benin and Togo.
Alao said that the spate of piracy and maritime crimes in GoG was still of grave concern as the steady reduction in the menace experienced between 2021 and 2022 had been wiped off.
“There is an upward push of about 50 per cent in the piracy and maritime crimes recorded in the first nine months of 2023 vis-à-vis the corresponding period in 2022.
“Within the period of nine months of 2023, about 70 crew were victims of piracy and maritime crimes, 54 were taken hostages, 14 were kidnapped and 2 were injured.
“This astronomical increase in the piracy and maritime crimes reported by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) of the International Chambers of Commerce (ICC) in GoG is therefore a wakeup call,” he said.
Alao said that MLAILPKC had persisted to strengthen its capacity to run courses in anti-piracy since it was commissioned by UNDP and the Government of Japan in 2021 to undertake the assignment.
The UNDP representative said that MLAILPKC, with the technical collaboration from Nigerian Navy, had trained 117 beneficiaries in four past courses organised between 2021 and 2023 project cycle.
“The course that we are inaugurating makes the fifth course conducted by the Centre since 2021.
“This course is, therefore, timely and will complement the resilient interventions of other players in GoG region.
“It will strengthen the skills and knowledge of the participants on anti-piracy and prevention of maritime crimes,” he said.
Alao said that the intervention was a part of Japan funded project aimed to complement global, regional and national authorities’ visions and efforts at combating piracy and other maritime crimes in GoG region.
“The intervention will reinforce synergies and partnership amongst GoG countries to combat piracy and maritime crimes.
“It will also promote international trades and ensure economic stability of the GoG member states and of their coastal communities.
“We thank the Government of Japan for sustaining its assistance to the Centre through funding of infrastructure and capacity building projects since 2014,” he said.
Alao, also appreciated the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Vice Adm. Emmanuel Ogalla and his team for their enviable partnership with UNDP and MLAILPKC to effectively implement the project.
The Chief of Training, Nigerian Army Headquarters, Maj.-Gen. Sanni Mohammed said that he was happy that the MLAILPKC was in collaboration with NASFA for the training.
Mohammed, who was represented by the Commandant, NASFA, Brig.-Gen Julius Osifo, said that the collaboration was a testament to the growing synergy among the Services and other national agencies.