• Thursday, September 28, 2023
businessday logo


Nigeria is the only country where vessels come, steal crude oil and fish, and go freely– Group

Nigeria is the only country where vessels come, steal crude oil and fish, and go freely– Group

Nigeria is said to be the only country anywhere in the world where people come and take away crude oil and fish and will not be caught.

A non-state organisation that mobilises for the fight against insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) says it is backing the Federal of Nigeria in actions so far taken to contain insecurity in the region.

The group has, however, poured lamentation over the seeming porous nature of Nigeria’s borders with the GoG.

In an interview, Fyneface Dumnamene Fyneface, the Executive Director of the Youth and Environment Advocacy Centre (YEAC), warned that Nigeria must act decisively to stop the deteriorating state of insecurity in its territory close to the GoG, saying that many spots are ungoverned.

Fyneface, whose group hopes to mobilise up to one million youths within the region to serve as an information network, said he has evidence that Nigeria is concerned and is serious with policing the region.

Asked if he believed Nigerian government is serious with security in the region, Fyneface said he was satisfied a bit. “I will say yes; I will say that the Government of Nigeria is concerned in the security issues in the GoG and in the Nigerian territorial waters.

“I have seen some form of seriousness. Number one, Nigeria is one of the pioneering countries in the formation of the Gulf of Guinea Commission. Nigeria is also playing leading roles in the GoG Commission because the Executive Secretary is a Nigerian woman.”

Just of recent, he went on, Nigeria launched the Deep Blue Project which he said seeks to fight piracy and make the sea route into Nigeria safe. “Nigeria acquired armoured boats, armoured vessels, fighter-helicopters, armoured vehicles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to support this fight. This has led to many successes. In fact, Nigeria has been delisted Lloyds of London from countries under War Risk Insurance (WRI) status.”

The president of Nigeria, he noted, was in Ghana to participate in the GoG Commission of Heads of State meeting. “That meeting also preceded a week later in a national conference in organized crimes in Nigeria and the GoG and the official launch of the Network of Organised Crime in Nigeria and GoG (NOCNGG) in Port Harcourt. Mr President participated through social media handle. His message by Twitter showed that Nigeria is still the Big Brother in Africa. Nigeria has been playing leading role in the fight against insecurity in the GoG.”

In 2019, he said, there was an international maritime summit on security in the GoG held in Abuja which he said contributed to some of the things Nigeria is doing against insecurity, piracy, drug trafficking, human trafficking, smuggling of light weapons, etc, but that they needed to redouble their efforts in that direction.

He was chief organizer of the security summit for the Gulf of Guinea. He said the attendance by government institutions was encouraging. “We invited the President (Buhari), Vice President, Army Chief, etc. Some got back to us on the matter but some came. But as long as the President honoured it by addressing us on Twitter, it means the Government came. The event was successful and the message went out.”

Read also: NPA commissions control towers at Apapa, Tin-Can Ports to enhance vessel turnaround time

He said part of the process of mitigating the absence of any institution that did not attend was to do an official report of the event and a communique signed by all the stakeholders in attendance. “By June 2023, we will visit all the invited institutions to submit the communique to them with a forwarding letter. This way, every stakeholder will have full details of that sensitive summit.”

On what Nigeria would be expecting in the coming years, Fyneface said insecurity is expected to reduce through proper management. “We do not expect full eradication but reduction to bared minimum. We have launched the Network on Organized Crimes in the Gulf of Guinea to work with non-state actors such as community leaders, youth leaders, etc, to generate and share intelligence in Nigeria and GoG so as to address insecurity in the region.

“We have seen situations where the government of the countries only react. We want them to be proactive with the support from information and intelligence garnered by our network after verification. They can use it to act proactively and prevent crime in the GoG.

“We have also advised Nigeria to work with other member-states in the GoG by setting up task forces in Nigeria and other GoG countries. We can then work more closely with them by sharing information and intelligence. The people that cause these crimes are not from the moon. They are in our communities. They are people we know. If there is synergy, it will be easier to tackle organised crimes including illegal and unregulated fishing in the GoG whereby trawlers from the West and East come to the zone to steal oil but also dump arms. If we can share relevant information, we can tackle this.”

He said the scheme would help in security, help Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo DR, etc to fight insecurity.

On whether his organisation has enough resources and manpower to handle the kind of task he was embarking on, both in Nigeria ad outside, he explained his group was not alone. “We are working on partnerships and networks. We are working on collaborations with those who believe in what we are trying to achieve. Support will help us set up properly.

“We want to go to those other countries to set up structure and generate information.”

He said the recent summit was sponsored by the Global Initiative Against Organised Crimes (GIAOC) in Austria, funded by the Resilience Fund. “We are also calling the GIAOC and the Resilience Fund to continue to sponsor what we have done and make it an annual event so we can use the platform to support the security agencies. We invite partners and governments to come in.

“The government and the local people are going to benefit more. Pirates start from and return to the land and cause mayhem. Illegal bunkering in Nigeria and GoG can be reduced by this initiative. More crude oil will flow. We hear the crude oil flow has dropped to less than one million barrels per day. Something must be done and quickly.

“If we can come together (oil companies need to come in) with funding and logistics we need, if we can mitigate pipeline vandalism, illegal bunkering, etc, they will save money and make more profit. We were trained in the US on how they work with all the stakeholders to bring peace. What is going on now as organized crime is a violent situation. Our work can reduce the situation through a win-win situation.”

He said security agencies have profiled his people. “We have been profiled by the Department of State Security (DSS); we have been doing things with the Army and the police since 2019. We have had a network since December 2019 called One Million Youth Volunteers Network of Human Right Defenders and Promoters in the Niger Delta (ND) from where we generate information in communities.

“We share with the media. We have Crude Oil Spill Alert System whereby we have instant information, whether 3rd party or equipment failure. As a result of our input, oil companies respond faster.

“We are registered with the government and licensed by Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to operate. We are the only organization so far known since 2017 to campaign against oil theft and artisanal refining in the Niger Delta. I believe they trust us.”

As the group gets more resources, he said, they will launch a toll-free line for people to call without being encumbered. He called on members of the public to embrace this concept. He assured that the network is growing to one million volunteers.