Port Harcourt — The Ijaw Diaspora Council, IDC, has charged the federal and state governments to synergize in curbing sea piracy in the Niger Delta region, saying that tackling piracy will improve the governance processes and welfare of the people in the region.
President of IDC, Prof. Mondy Gold, during an International Conference on Law of the Sea and Maritime, blamed the menace of sea piracy to legal and jurisdictional lapses, underfunded law enforcement, inadequate security, permissive political environments, the culmination of years of inattention, desperation and lawlessness.
Gold urged all stakeholders to shun the lure of dollars from buyers of stolen crude oil to Nigerian youths, especially in the Niger Delta region, as well as drastically minimise corrupt foreign government officials and financial institutions receiving and recycling illicit funds.
According to him, ransom payments for crews and sailors in dollars; and exotic lifestyles from the proceeds, all of which serve to whet the appetite for these criminal activities and further attract the youths.
The conference called on governments in Niger Delta to support Exercise Obangame – the largest multinational maritime exercise in West and Central Africa – which includes numerous sea and ashore training events throughout the Gulf of Guinea and the Southern Atlantic oceans.
The conference noted that the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences, SPOMO Act 2019 of Nigeria, empowered the deep blue security architecture of the federal government to prosecute offenders, noting that the law has reduced the occurrence of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea to a manageable level.
“We will collaborate and improve synergy among stakeholders and sustain the gains made by the Maritime Organization of West and Central Africa (MOWCA) and work with member States and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for the establishment of an Integrated Coast Guard Function Network.
“The network will supply regional mechanism for combating piracy and armed robbery against ships and for enhancing maritime security in general for the area from Mauritania to Angola.
“We demand restraint in coast sharing states where no delimitation agreement has been reached, because disputes are bound to arise on the sovereign rights over the natural resources within those boundaries, especially in areas endowed with natural resources such as oil and gas often found in deposits that extend across a coastal State’s maritime boundaries, allowing for its exploitation from either side of the line.
“States in the Niger Delta with invaluable resources and jurisdictional rights and responsibility to Nigeria as a State, should generate an Exclusive Economic Zone of 200 nautical miles towards the high seaward for Nigeria.
“This is because a coastal State such as Nigeria and coastal communities such as Bonny, Warri or Brass, or even Hobart in Australia, enjoy the benefit of the exploitation of its marine resources up to its EEZ as measured from its farthest point of its island or coast.
“Niger Delta states should apply caution like in the joint development zones of Nigeria and Sao Tome and Principe and further apply restraint in the maritime delimitation process because the rights conferred on a coastal state to explore and exploit its natural resources stem from the principle of ‘Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources, PSNR.”
PSNR is a legal, governmental control, and management authority over natural resources, particularly as an aspect of the exercise of the right of self determination.
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