Lazy eyes listen
According to Africanews, France and Nigeria have forged a naval alliance to boost maritime security and combat piracy and trafficking in the Gulf of Guinea, commencing a four-month deployment commanded by the French carrier Mistral.
A fleet of five Nigerian naval ships is working alongside the French vessel, according to the news agency.
The Nigerian Navy stated earlier this month that the French maritime ship Mistral had visited the port in Lagos, the West African country’s main city that spans inland from the Gulf of Guinea. The ship was in town for the “Grand African [Navy Exercise for Maritime Operations] NEMO and Exercise Crocodile Lift, scheduled for October 9-15, 2023,” according to the ship’s website.
The African NEMO, an annual French-led exercise, focuses on training for joint efforts to establish maritime security and stability in the Gulf of Guinea, with over 20 nations and partners participating in the drills last year, including US Naval Forces in Africa.
The Mistral’s Commander, Captain Olivier Roussille, stated that the French have had a near-permanent deployment of a naval warship in the Gulf of Guinea since 1990.
“The heart of our mission is maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea, where France has both interests and strong partners, including Nigeria,” Roussille told Africanews.
According to the Nigerian Navy, the naval exercises demonstrate the country’s commitment to the Yaounde Protocol, a 2013 agreement signed by 25 West and Central African governments as well as regional blocs: the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
The pact was intended to limit illicit activity in the Gulf, and a recent United Nations assessment showed a decrease in piracy and armed robbery at sea after a decade of compliance. According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), only five pirate and robbery occurrences were reported in the first quarter of 2023, compared to eight in the same period in 2022 and 16 in 2021.
The IMB claimed that the number of actual and attempted piracy assaults on ships reduced from 48 in 2018 to six in 2021 in Nigeria, where the government also launched the $195 million Deep Blue Project in 2021, sending ships, aircraft, and drones to patrol busy routes along its coast.