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ECOWAS partners must be vigilant against piracy – Kofi Mbiah


Dr Emmanuel Kofi Mbiah, a Maritime Law Consultant and Legal Practitioner, has called for continued collaboration among the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) regional partners to remain vigilant against piracy in the sub-region.

Dr Mbiah said this required a collective approach by these countries to reduce the rate of piracy in the region.

He was speaking at the opening of a six-week operational training course at the Regional Maritime University (RMU) under the European Union-sponsored Support to the ECOWAS Integrated Maritime Strategy (SWAIMS) project.

The training is the fourth and final edition of the programme that commenced in 2016 for sea actors, naval officers, and law enforcement officers across West Africa.

Dr Mbiah said that even though there had been some reduction in piracy attacks, the region was not out of the woods, as the pirates still hovered around its waters.

He explained that due to the poor economic conditions in these countries, they consequently acted as fertile grounds for engaging and recruiting people who wanted to get involved in nefarious activities.

Dr Mbiah said the challenges were still there and there was a need to be vigilant, keep an open mind, and ensure that there was collaboration between the various partners.

He expressed optimism that once the knowledge and information sharing went on, ECOWAS could deal with it in large proportions and measures.

Dr Baboucarr Njie, the RMU’s Registrar, representing the Acting Vice Chancellor, Dr Jethro Brooks Jr. reminded participants at the opening ceremony about the severity of maritime insecurities in the region in recent years.

Dr Njie said, “According to the ECOWAS Multi-National Maritime Coronation Centre (EMMCC) Zone F 2020 annual report, 136 crew members were abducted in 27 kidnapping incidents for the year.

“This accounted for about 95 per cent of global kidnappings for ransom.

“Comparatively, the Indian Ocean recorded only 36 incidents, of which none were classified as piracy,” he said.

He said this made the Gulf of Guinea the most dangerous waters for seafarers worldwide, adding that the growing maritime insecurity had affected the legitimate uses of the sea, impaired the exploitation of coastal resources, and continued to undermine regional security as well as the realisation of the blue economy potential of the region.

Engineer Augustus Addy-Lamptey, the SWAIMS Project Coordinator, said the importance of continuous maritime domain awareness and training could not be overemphasised, as recent events demonstrated the persistence of the enemy at hand.

He said the main objectives for the SWAIMS project cover governance and law enforcement frameworks, prosecution and adjudication of maritime crimes, law enforcement and operational capacities and responses, and others.

He disclosed that this year’s training edition would have an interaction session with a survivor of a maritime kidnapping incident.

The project coordinator said maritime incidents were now reducing.

Source: GNA

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