Nigeria may still have to do more, than her present share of procuring platforms and reinforcing collaboration between the Nigerian Navy, Air force and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, (NIMASA) if her waters and oil are to remain safer, a Denmark based group, the Risk Intelligence (RI) has counselled.
The R.I came to the conclusion, after the team discovered, that countries in the Gulf of Guinea, consisting mostly of Nigeria and Benin Republic have lost, not less than $100 million to oil thieves, between 2010 and now; even as the area also witnessed over 264 piracy attacks.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) specifically noted, that with the increasing rate of sea crimes, gradually shifting from the coast of Somali and the Suez Canal to the the Gulf of Guinea, the zone was also gradually accounting for approximately, 20 percent of global piracy attacks.
“In total, there were 264 attacks on ships in 2012, a 40 percent drop from 2011 when Somalia piracy was at its peak and 237 attacks occurred in that region alone” noted the IMB, even as the cost of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea in respect of the stolen goods, security, and insurance was estimated at $2 billion.
Subsequently, the IMB, in taking a bird’s eye view account indicated that the West African piracy record, made up 19 percent of attacks world-wide last year, actually saw those of direct Nigerian pirates accounting for 31 of the region’s 51 attacks; becoming the most since 2008.
The records also showed that only very few pirate attacks, have however, occurred in Ghana’s territorial waters, perhaps because they were patrolled by the country’s navy with just one incident last year.
Dick Steffen, head of maritime security of the organization specifically noted also that the group had closely tracked the region; added that there had been more targeted attacks against product carrying tankers.
“What has changed”, he said, “was the type of ships being attacked”, he highlighted, explaining that the development has led to a spike in the number of reported incidents. But he maintained that only most of the ships that were involved in international trade tend to report when they were attacked; while the pirates- typically raided local or regional vessels, whose crew had various motivations, including political ones, tend to keep quiet after being robbed; a good reason why the actual figure of the piracy attacks may remain higher, but largely unaccounted for.
In the meantime, the Federal Government has embarked on various palliative measures, meant benefits being realized.
“We have achieved significant integrated capacity through the PPP project and collaboration with the Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Air Force, Nigeria Police Force and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC). We are working to establish and maintain physical presence in all remote areas of Nigeria’s maritime domain.
“The last two years of our acquiring operational and enforcement capability has to contain the menace, including the award of a contract worth $103.4million (over N15billion) to the Global West Vessel Specialist Limited (GWVSL), to supply 20 vessels for the use of the nation’s military authorities to secure the waterways.
Speaking on the no-cure, no-pay contract, the Director- General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Patrick Akpobolokemi, in a memo titled: “Award of Contract for the Strategic Concessioning Partnership with NIMASA to provide platforms for Tracking Ships and Cargoes, Enforce Regulatory Compliance and Surveillance of the Entire Nigerian Maritime Domain” had indicated not only an approval of Mr. President, but also the increasing led to the arrest of over 244 vessels. Their offences range from piracy and sea robbery, economic sabotage/illicit activities to non-compliance with regulatory regimes and evasion of statutory levy payment”, the NIMASA Boss stated further.
Akpobolokemi who believed that the Government was not sitting with its hands folded, stressed that the efforts were not just paying off, but was already showing strong reasons to believe that with time, the issue of piracy, contrary to the increasing beliefs of the international community that because the buyers, and brokers of stolen cargo were organized Nigerian gangs, the crime would endure Government support, would soon ensure it become a thing of the past.–International Trade Monitor.