ECOWAS puts piracy menace on Heads of State summit’s agenda for 2012

Victor Gbeho - ECOWAS President

ECOWAS says a summit of Heads of State and Government is being planned in the first quarter of 2012 to get the political support of regional leaders behind West Africa’s effort to combat the menace of piracy in a holistic manner.

Speaking to a seven-member multi-disciplinary UN mission who paid a visit to the region to discuss ways of addressing the scourge, the President of ECOWAS Commission, Mr Victor Gbeho said “Piracy is not a new thing but has recently assumed unacceptable proportions mainly because of unsatisfactory social conditions.”

According a statement issued by ECOWAS, while President Gbeho acknowledged the validity of existing bilateral arrangements between Member States in confronting the problem such as the one between Benin and Nigeria, he explained that concerted action among the states was preferable because of its impact on the regional economy and the intensity of the problem.

Mr. Gbeho, the statement said, described piracy as an ‘unnecessary distraction’ at this time when the region is working to harness its resources for development.

He however attributed the problem partly to poverty, youth unemployment, deterioration of law and order, all of which are exacerbated by the economic and political situations in parts of the region.

The leader of the UN Joint Inter-Agency Assessment Mission, Mr. Sammy Buo praised ECOWAS for its initiatives to confront piracy in the region and stressed the need for partnerships citing the ongoing effort for an MoU between ECOWAS and ECCAS as the preferred approach.

By Ekow Quandzie

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