Business Hilights
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Weeks after Abuja Declaration, kidnappers hit vessel off Cotonou waters

On October 10, 2019, international delegates at the Global Maritime Security Conference (GMSC) rose at the end of the three days engagement from Monday 7th to Wednesday 9th October, at the International Conference Centre in Abuja, with a firm declaration to globally criminalise acts of insecurity and proceeds from illegal maritime activities from the zone as was with the case of the “Blood Diamonds”

However, less than one month, nine crew members were taken hostage from the bulk carrier MV Bonita in the early morning hours of November 2 off Cotonou, Benin, according to the Norwegian shipowner, J.J. Ugland.

The anchored vessel was boarded by pirates while it was waiting for berth to discharge inbound cargo of gypsum, a mineral commonly used as fertiliser, destined for Benin.

The remaining crew notified local authorities and Norway-flagged MV Bonita docked at the port city of Cotonou later the same day, the company said in a statement.

However, J.J. Ugland noted that its Emergency Response Team “are handling this situation as per contingency plans, and they are in contact with relevant authorities.

“The families of the crewmembers have been contacted and will be kept informed by Ugland,” the company added.

Ship wasn’t identified, but according to available data, it’s an Aframax tanker ELKA ARISTOTLE.

4 crew kidnapped: 3 Filipino and 1 Georgian nationality.

Though available details were scanty, Business Hilights gathered that the Vessel was attacked at Lome Anchorage, Togo, Gulf of Guinea, in position 05 58N 001 16E, at 0240 UTC Nov 4.

It would be recalled that in a communiqué, termed Abuja Declaration on the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) crisis at the end of the conference, which was attended by delegates from about 80 countries, the conferees also agreed to constitute a “GMSC expert working group” to drive the implementation of the decisions arising from the gathering in liaison with ECOWAS, ECCAS, ICC, and other international partners.

The communiqué session chaired by the Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, and read by Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside, in front of about 2000 participants from nearly 80 countries, resolved that “Gulf of Guinea States and the international community should put mechanisms in place to ensure that resources that are illegally harvested/explored in the GoG, including stolen oil and Illegal Unreported and Unregulated Fishery, are intentionally banned as was the case with the ‘blood diamonds’”, the communiqué said.

The conference called for collaboration among the navies, coast guards, and maritime authorities of countries in the Gulf of Guinea and other continental and international maritime nations. It said countries in the Gulf of Guinea should intensify maritime capacity and infrastructure building efforts to push the objectives effectively.