Nigeria, Benin Republic, Togo, and Niger Republic have joined forces to inaugurate “Operation Safe Domain II,” a collaborative effort aimed at eradicating piracy and maritime crimes in the Gulf of Guinea, particularly within their shared maritime domain according to reports from NAN.
Speaking at the inauguration on Monday, the Director of Multinational Maritime Coordination Centre (MMCC) Zone E, Commodore Aniedi Ibok, said the operation was in furtherance of the implementation of the MOU on Joint Maritime Operations and Patrols (JMOP) agreed upon by the countries.
The programme had the theme: “Enhancing Maritime Security Through Collaboration for Regional Prosperity.”
The operation was necessitated by the high crime rate in the Gulf of Guinea
According to the director, noted that the operation was necessitated by the high rate of illicit maritime activities including piracy and sea robbery reported over time in the Gulf of Guinea and West African waters in particular.
- “These security challenges undermine the economic development of the zone while endangering the livelihood of local coastal communities and seafarers in general.”
- “Therefore, the operation will help defeat the adversary in whatever form they appear,” he said.
Objectives of the operation
According to Ibok, the objectives of the patrols and joint operations are to pool resources of the state parties, make the maritime resources interoperable and evaluate the Standard Operational Procedures (SOPs).
- “The objectives will also operationalise the right of hot pursuit as defined by the rules of engagement, multilateral and bilateral memoranda to secure the maritime area of the ‘Maritime Zone E’,” he said.
The director said that the adopted strategy would comprise research and exchange of information, maritime and air surveillance as well as intervention of the operational units in case of necessity.
- “I am trusting that member states zone and regional organisations will continue to support all efforts at tackling criminality at sea while sustaining the joint operations for the betterment of the Sub-region.”
- “Sustaining the joint operation and patrols will enhance the security of lives and property in the Gulf of Guinea, particularly in Zone E’s waters for our shared prosperity,” he said.
Benin Republic facing piracy problems
The Benin Chief of Defence Staff, Brig.-Gen. Fructueux Gbaguidi, who said that the country had been facing piracy problems called out to neighbouring countries for help.
- “That is why the four countries have come together to form a formidable force against piracy and maritime crimes.”
- “The collaboration of these countries led to the establishment of ‘Op Safe Domain I’ in 2021 and the success of the operation has led to ‘Op Safe Domain II’ in 2023,” Gbaguidi said.
He thanked the authorities of the four countries for coming together to enable the realisation and success of the operation.
Collaboration is critical in achieving marine security
- “This has made it possible for us to realise the objectives of securing our waters and checkmating the activities of pirates and sea crime in our maritime domain,” the Brigadier General said.
The Benin Republic Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Captain Jean Le’on Olatoundji said that only the collaboration of countries can help improve the fight against the disastrous activities of piracy.
Olatoundji said that ‘Op Safe Domain II’ demonstrated the member countries’ common will to face up to the threat in the maritime domain and piracy in the zone.
- “I am very confident in the crews’ abilities to carry out this noble mission successfully,” the CNS said.
Marine security critical to economic prosperity
The Director, of the Regional Maritime Security Coordination Centre, West Africa, Commodore Richard Shammah, said:
- “The issue of sea blindness is gradually being eradicated from our minds.”
- “Countries are now becoming more aware of the great economic importance of what the sea has to their various economy.”
- “So, for us to have economic prosperity at sea, we must have a safe and secured Maritime domain.”
- “This operation is necessary so that we can have a sea line of communication and trade and no one country can do it alone hence the collaborative effort.”
- “It is my prayers that the aim and objectives of this collaboration shall be achieved because it will also tend to develop capacity with our navies,”