A huge vessel containing 4011kg of cocaine smuggled across the Gulf of Guinea was arrested by the Ivorian navy last week through a joint maritime patrol between Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, Benin, and other member states.
According to the headquarters of ECOWAS Multinational Maritime Coordination Centre (MMCC) in Accra, the arrested consignment was finding its way into the ECOWAS sub-region.
“Just last week, out of the information sharing and international collaboration among the member states, Cote d’ Ivoire was able to arrest a vessel that was bringing 4011kg of cocaine into the sub-region. The Ivorian Navy had the information and they were able to arrest that vessel,” the Director of the ECOWAS Multinational Maritime Coordination Centre, Commander Yussif Benning said.
Ghana hosts the ECOWAS Maritime Zone F which groups countries between other member states working together to preserve the marine resources in the territorial waters and also combat all levels of piracy, armed robbery at sea, illegal fishing smuggling and other maritime crimes.
At the opening of a newly refurbished ECOWAS Multinational Maritime Coordination Centre (MMCC) at the Osu Castle in Accra, Commander Yussif Benning said the newly renovated headquarters will aid in effective collaboration between member states and the shipping industry as a whole.
He established that since the inception of the ECOWAS Multinational Maritime Coordination program in 2013, more crimes at sea have been detected.
He listed an example of a vessel that was arrested in 2018 for engaging in unauthorized ship-to-ship transfers and bunkering of merchant ships along the Ghana-Cote d’Ivoire maritime border.
A tanker vessel known as MT MAXIMUS which was hijacked by pirates about 60 miles off Abidjan was also tracked down by the Nigerian Navy through the help of cooperation and information sharing by other member states, the commander explains.