ECOWAS countries join forces to fight oil theft, piracy

21 December 2014, Abuja – The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to adopt an Integrated Maritime Strategy and Multilateral Agreement on the establishment of Maritime Pilot Zone E to fight oil theft, sea robbery, piracy and other forms of criminality in the sub-region.

The Zone E countries comprises Republic of Benin, Niger Republic, Nigeria and Togo.

Speaking Oil-theftin Calabar, the Cross River state, capital during the 2014 Chiefs of the Naval Staff/Heads of Gendarmerie of the ECOWAS Maritime Pilot Zone E Countries meeting, Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, said the Multilateral Agreement on the establishment of Maritime Zone E was to eradicate illegal maritime activities in West Africa.

Jibrin said that the meeting was organised to finalise important processes towards activation of Zone E Maritime Multinational Coordination Centre (MMCC).

The Naval boss stated, “Today, we are expected to formally agree on the final operational plan and resource commitment as fine-tuned by our team of operational experts.”

In his address, Minister of Defense, Lt. Gen. Aliyu Gusau (retd), said that the prospect for optimal exploitation of resources from the maritime environment for sub-regional benefit is hampered by piracy and other transnational criminalities.

Represented by Mr. Aliyu Sumaila, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Gusau said that pipeline vandalism and crude oil theft has greatly affected the country’s revenue generation drive, hence the need for a tight maritime security.

“Maritime security is a cause for concern, given the export of oil from the Gulf of Guinea of over 5 million barrels per day and also additional discoveries from other member state. I am delighted to witness this memorable occasion for the collaborative engagement mechanism in our drive to effectively secure the Gulf of Guinea maritime domain in order to harness the vast economic resources.

“I wish to emphasise that collective action from member states is very crucial in confronting maritime threats such as attacks on shipping and resource theft,” he said.

– The Nation

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