Lagos (WorldStage Newsonline) – A team of experts from the European Commission and officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) are working on a lasting solution to the worsening state of insecurity at the Gulf of Guinea.
The EC team leader Olivier Villedieu De Torcy during a working visit to the Agency’s headquarters at Ikoyi Lagos said that they were on a fact finding mission on how to address the problem of drug trafficking, piracy, armed robbery, arms dealing, illegal fishing among others.
The Gulf of Guinea runs from Guinea on Africa’s north-western tip to Gabon in the south and includes Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Cameroon. Among the many rivers that drain into the Gulf of Guinea are the Niger and the Volta. The coastline on the gulf includes the Bight of Benin and the Bight of Bonny.
According to Olivier, “we are on a fact finding mission on how to tackle drug trafficking, piracy, illegal arms dealing, illegal fishing and the state of insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea”.
The team had been to Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. They will also visit other countries within the Gulf of Guinea. Their mission includes an assessment of existing plans at regional levels to address the problem. Equally important to the team is the interest of visiting countries in supporting security initiative in the region.
The Chairman/Chief Executive of the NDLEA Ahmadu Giade who received the EC experts at the Agency’s headquarters thanked them for the visit which he described as timely. The Gulf of Guinea he noted is an important region to Nigeria and the world.
Giade stated that Nigeria had long been working on peace initiatives for the Gulf of Guinea in line with the United Nations political declaration. The Agency had also participated in various round table sessions aimed at addressing the issue.
“We welcome this move by the European Commission in the implementation of peace plan in the Gulf of Guinea. It will further strengthen existing efforts to address the nagging issues of drug trafficking and insecurity in the region. Nigeria is willing to enlarge its support in the interest of enduring peace at the Gulf of Guinea,” Giade stressed.
The Gulf of Guinea that ought to enhance the stability and economic prosperity of countries in the sub-region has resulted in huge financial losses, significantly constrained investment and economic prospects due to pervasive insecurity in the resource-laden maritime environment.
The International Maritime Bureau ranks the Gulf of Guinea as one of the most troubled global waterways. Since the late 1990s, this sub-region consistently ranked among the top piracy hot spots worldwide. Lack of control over the maritime domain has made it difficult for Gulf of Guinea states to enjoy the full benefits of the significant resources. Recent studies suggest that poaching by vessels from Asia, Europe and other parts of Africa costs the sub-region monumental losses of about $370 million annually. Poaching also has a number of indirect effects, including the drastic reduction of incomes and loss of means of livelihood in fishing communities