Protect maritime boundaries, Ijaw diaspora group tells Tinubu

London—Following the increasing sea piracy, oil theft, and other criminal activities across the nation’s maritime boundaries, the Ijaw Diaspora Council (IDC) on Tuesday appealed to President Bola Tinubu to ensure adequate protection of maritime boundaries.

According to the Tribune, this is contained in a Communique issued by IDC at its international conference on ‘Law of the Sea and Maritime.’

The group noted that it is now very pertinent for the government to address worrisome activities perpetrated by Nigerians and their foreign collaborators at the expense of national security.

The conference, which was anchored and moderated by Vice President IDC, the Americas, Amb Regina Yaboh, and Vice President, IDC, Europe, Dr Antonia Garner, respectively, drew both members and non-members from all over the world.

The communique “Urges the government in Nigeria to curb the rise of piracy activities in the Niger Delta occasioned by legal and jurisdictional weakness, favorable geography, conflict and disorder, underfunded law enforcement, inadequate security, permissive political environments, cultural acceptability, the culmination of years of inattention, desperation, and lawlessness in the area bordering the globally vital shipping routes by improving governance processes and welfare of the people in the resource-based region.

“Calls on all stakeholders to reduce the lure of dollars from buyers of stolen crude oil to Nigerian youths, especially in the Niger Delta region; corrupt foreign government officials and financial institutions receiving and recycling illicit funds; ransom payments for crews and sailors in dollars; and exotic lifestyles from the proceeds all serve to whet the appetite for these criminal activities and further attract the youths.”

The communique, however, appealed to Niger Delta States to support Operation Obangame to boost security in the area.

“Calls on state governments in the Niger Delta to support operations 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 and is sponsored by the United States African Command, in order to combat the threat of oil theft in the region.

“The Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act, 2019 of Nigeria empowered the Deep Blue security architecture of the federal government of Nigeria (specifically NIMASA) for the prosecution of criminals.

“It has reduced the occurrence of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea to a manageable level.

“Agrees to collaborate and improve synergy among stakeholders and sustain the gains made by the Maritime Organization of West and Central Africa (MOWCA) and work assiduously with Member States and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) for the establishment of an Integrated Coast Guard Function Network to 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,” the Communique stated.

Furthermore, the Communique “urges Niger Delta states with invaluable resources and jurisdictional rights and responsibility to Nigeria as a State can generate an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 200 nautical miles towards the high seaward for Nigeria; and by the slope of its continental shelf brings to Nigeria 350 nautical miles measured from its baseline, as defined by article 57 of the 1982 UNLOS.

This is because a coastal State such as Nigeria and coastal communities such as Bonny, Warri, Brass, or Hobart in Australia enjoys the benefit of exploitation of its marine resources up to its EEZ as measured from the farthest point of its island or coast.

“Urges Niger Delta states to 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) – a legal, governmental control, and management authority over natural resources, particularly as an aspect of the exercise of the right of self-determination.

“Urges 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.

“Urges nation-state to use the Joint Development Agreement, which has been successfully utilized in its various forms by coastal states that understood the benefits of early and certain revenue generation from the exploitation of natural resources, compared to a violent unilateral assertion of a sovereign right, or the resolution of conflict through the various means afforded in the UNCLOS.

“Confirms the need for collaboration between the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Ijaw Diaspora Council (IDC) to address the problems of the Niger Delta.”

Keynote and guest speakers at the conference included the Secretary General of the Maritime Organization of West and Central Africa, His Excellency Dr Paul Adalikwu; Director General and CEO of the Nigerian Maritime Administration Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh, OFR; and Vice President Asia Pacific of the IDC, Chief Emmanuel Tam Ezekiel-Hart.

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