Policy Fragmentation, Low Enforcement Capacity Swell GoG Crisis
The United Nations Office of Drug and Crime (UNODC) has given reasons for the continued criminal activities within the through the Gulf of Guinea, GoG.
Addressing newsmen on the sidelines of the ongoing Global Maritime Security Conference, GMSC in Abuja, Mr. Oliver Stolpe and Mr. Geosef Sernia, country representative and Programmes officer of UNODC respectively, said some African countries are yet to adopt and domesticate the UN convention on Drugs and Narcotics.
The UNODC officials lamented that policy inconsistency/fragmentation, low enforcement capacity and lack of commitment by some of the countries within the GoG region are factors which combine to embolden criminals to operate in the region.
They are of the view that regional collaboration, improved enforcement efforts and adoption of international conventions would go a long way to stem the tide of unrests in the GoG.
While commending Nigeria for the GMSC and enactment of the Anti-piracy law to address issues of piracy and other criminal acts in the GoG, lamented lack of commitment by GoG states to arrest and prosecute criminals operating within the region.
According to Stolpe, “Some African countries which share the Gulf of Guinea region are yet to sign up and adopt the international conventions on Drugs and Narcotics. This make it possible for criminals to perpetrate crime in one region and run to others for refuge where they cannot be arrested nor prosecuted”
Specifically, Stolpe said while 80 tons of Tramadol were seized in Nigeria in 2014, the number rose to 150 tons in 2018 and the drugs came through water.
He added that Cape Verde has also recorded 10 tons of cocaine smuggled into the country. He urged counties to apply Vienna Convention of 1988 on Narcotics and Psychotropic substances.
He charged proximate countries in the Gulf of Guinea to adopt and domesticate the convention into their national legal frameworks as a strategy to fight drug related and other crimes.
According to him, there is a disconnect between the countries in the areas of domesticating the convention nationally and at regional levels like Economic Community of West African States ( ECOWAS)
Stolpe also called on increased security capacity for countries in the Gulf of Guinea and preparing the judges for prosecution of maritime crimes and drug related cases.
While commending efforts by the European Union, United States , Danish and other governments to ensure safety among coastal countries in the Gulf of Guinea, Stolpe said more needed to be done.
The United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988 is one of three major drug control treaties currently in force.
It provides additional legal mechanisms for enforcing the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. The Convention entered into force on November 11, 1990. As of February 2018, there are 190 Parties to the Convention.