In the face of rising cases of shipments of cocain and other Illicit drugs, the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime has called on coastal nations in the Gulf of Guinea to apply the Vienna Convention on Narcotic Substances , especially in Article 17 which empowers coastal countries to board vessels with foreign flags if reasonable suspicion is established.
Joseph Giuseppe Sernia, the program officer at UNODC said the huge seizures of cocaine at Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau points to the fact that majority of Illicit drugs are transported by sea, hence the need for countries to connect to implement legal frameworks against maritime crime.
Mr Sernia said UNODC has in the last six years been assessing frameworks and recommending reforms.
He particularly commended the Nigerian Government for blazing the trail in domestication of relevant frameworks, especially the passage of the Suppression Act.
He said “harmonization is first a question of developing capacity to prosecute.”
Also, Oliver Stoipe UNODC’s Country Director for Nigeria praised the Nigerian Government for the Suppression of Piracy Act which he said has for the first time gives a comprehensive framework on the issue of piracy and more broadly speaking of maritime crime.
“I think that we are on a good path. Of course the big issue is specific action on prosecution that has been lacking”
“The challenge of looking at the Gulf of Guinea as whole is that the legal framework is extremely fragmented”
“We have the regional frameworks, we have also the international framework. We have even the sub-regional at the level of ECOWAS but there is a gap between the countries having signed on to these different policies and actually being able to put them into domestic legislation or domestic policies. ”
He said the UNODC is providing training for prosecutors and also law enforcement officers.
” We are doing our best to support Nigeria and the other countries. We should consider that the main work is done by the African countries themselves”,he said.
addressed the press conference alongside the Programme Officer at the UNODC Office in Nigeria, Mr. Giuseppe Sernia