Nigeria, Benin Republic, Togo and Niger Republic have inaugurated ‘Operation Safe Domain II’ as a collaborative effort toward eradicating piracy and maritime crimes within their maritime domain, especially the Gulf of Guinea.
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 event holding at MMCC Zone E Complex started Monday and would end on Friday at Cotonou Port Naval Base, Benin.
The Yaonde Code of Conduct in 2013 divided the Gulf of Guinea into two sub-regions coordinated in the West by the Regional Centre for Maritime Security in West Africa (CRESMAO) and to the East by the Regional Centre for Maritime Security in Central Africa (CRESMAC).
Thereafter, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Integrated Maritime Strategy (EIMS) established the three maritime zones of E, F and G in 2014.
Zone E was established earlier as the pilot project in 2013 and its success resulted in the establishment of other zones.
According to the director, the purpose of the JMOP is primarily to ensure the permanent, joint and coordinated control of the Maritime Zone E with a view to ensuring maritime safety and security.
He said the operation was wholly sponsored by ECOWAS and member states of Zone E.
Mr Ibok added 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.
According to Mr Ibok, the objectives of the patrols and joint operations are to pool resources of the states parties, make the maritime resources interoperable and evaluate the standard operating procedures.
“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.