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Defence minister wants African Navies to unite against sea criminals

Philip Nwosu

Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali, has called for transnational efforts towards fighting maritime crimes in the Gulf of Guinea.

The minister, who spoke at the closing ceremonies for the 2019 edition of Exercise Obangame Express, said maritime illegalities had become transnational and evolved beyond the scope and capability of one country to combat.

Dan-Ali, who was represented at the event by the Director of Navy at the Ministry of Defence, Patrick Ekawu, said: “The scourge of various forms of illegalities, such as sea robbery, piracy, crude oil theft, poaching human and illicit trafficking of weapons and drugs, among others, constitute serious challenges to the development of the countries in our region.

“One commonality among these maritime threats is that they have become transnational and have evolved beyond the scope and capability of one nation to combat.

“For most of the Gulf of Guinea Navies and Coast Guards, therefore, one of the major implications of the emerging security equation is the increasing demand for maritime policing functions.”

He said maritime illegalities constitute serious challenges to the development of Gulf of Guinea states, and noted that huge capability gap had emerged in the past decades among Gulf of Guinea navies and coast guards, in the discharge of their roles.

He said: “The situation increasingly gave rise to the need for greater international collaboration as well as inter-agency cooperation across various national capabilities and policy levels.

“It is against this background that Exercise Obangame Expresss has remained relevant in developing the capabilities of the various navies and coast guards in the Gulf of Guinea, to combat maritime security challenges within their maritime domain.”

The minister commended the navies of the Kingdom of Morocco, Portugal, United States and other regional navies that had dispatched warships and personnel to participate in the sea exercise.

The Commander, US Naval Forces Africa, Admiral James Foggo, while speaking with journalists, noted that there had always been incredible progress each year of the exercise.

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