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How to curb maritime piracy in Nigeria, West Africa



Ever since the re-emergence of global economic crisis in 2008 coupled with political instability in some parts of the world and indeed Africa, shipping business in Nigeria and in other parts of the world has not been the same. The activities of sea pirates have been on the increase thereby escalating situations in the horn of Africa off the Somali coast with frequent reports of Somali pirates seizing vessels and crew taking hostages while lives were lost. Also, hundreds of millions of dollars was paid out in ransom. The concerns of many especially maritime stakeholders had been the negative effect on global shipping as a result of disruptions in the sector while threat to safety and commercial shipping has raised an alarm that drew an international response.

Globally, in the last few years, the news has not been cheering at all. Since 2011 reports from the International Maritime Bureau and International Maritime Organization have shown a marked increase in acts of maritime piracy along Africa’s west coast to a level that now rivals incidents of piracy around the Horn of Africa. Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, however, is drastically different from the type of piracy seen off the coast of Somalia in which ship crews are typically held captive for ransom.

Instead, pirates along Africa’s west coast actively disrupt vital commerce by stealing crude oil, fish and other cargo in transit, often injuring or killing crew members in the process. The effect of this type of piracy is immediately felt in the pockets of every Nigerian citizen as incomes dependent on the sale of the heisted cargo diminish and prices for these goods rise as they are lost to the black market.

Recent events continue to highlight the inadequacies of the Nigerian anti-piracy legislation and its inability to effectively pursue and prosecute pirates according to the regulations of the IMO.

Nigeria loses $2b to maritime insecurity yearly

Nigeria is said to be losing a staggering $2 billion (N330 billion) to maritime insecurity annually. According to maritime experts, Nigeria loses about $800 million yearly to poachers who came to take away different species of fish from the nation’s waters unchecked in addition to losing $9 million to piracy annually and $15.5 million annually to oil theft.

Also, recently, the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Dieziani Alison-Madueke was said to have lost N1.29 trillion to maritime security breaches, which represents a quarter of the nation’s annual budget. In 2012, Nigeria recorded 27 incidents with 4 vessels hijacked 13 vessels boarded, 8 fired upon and 2 attempted attacks.

As parts of efforts to curb this anomaly, which experts said occur unabated on the nation’s waterways, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) recently entered into a partnership with the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) in order to ensure safety and security on the waterways.

Former Legal Adviser and Secretary to the Board of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Barrister Mathew Egbadon said at a forum recently that, “A lot of illegalities are going on in our waters; in the Gulf of Guinea in particular and if the situation is not confronted, the countries in this region will be poor because of the nefarious activities that go on their hence, there is need for NAF to come on board to help fight illegalities on our water. If the rate of impunity that thrives in the Gulf of Guinea is not combated, countries in the Gulf of Guinea would remain poor.

“Aside crude oil export, 65 percent of total maritime traffic in volume and value in West Africa pass through Nigeria therefore all hands must be on deck to fight this scourge.”

As with Nigeria, so is with other African countries

Piracy has equally been at its peak in other parts of Africa. For instance, it was reported that in the Gulf of Guinea, piracy is rising with 58 incidents in 2012 comprising 10 hijackings with 207 crew members taken hostage. The story is the same off the Coast of Ivory Coast where one incident recorded in 2011 rose to 5 in 2012 and in the last quarter of the same year. Within 9 months of 2013, worldwide incidents of piracy include 176 reported cases and 10 hijackings out of which Nigeria has 28 cases of piracy and 2 hijackings, while Somali has 10 cases and 2 hijackings.

Late in 2013, it was reported that ‘‘pirates attacks off Nigeria’s Coast increase three folds,’’ while two US sailors were kidnapped from an oil supply vessel off the nation’s coast within the year. West Africa’s coast has become an increasing target for pirate attacks.

In 2014, the situation has not changed significantly as maritime scholars and stakeholders are perturbed by the character and nature of this crime. Experts said these are the excesses of maritime piracy despite various countermeasures applied.

Nigerian navy tackles pirates headlong

However, the Nigerian Navy has taken the Bull by the Horn to curb the menace; following the recent arrest of over 40 vessels involved in illegal activities at the Gulf of Guinea. Also, not relenting, the Nigerian Navy said its now collaborating with the United States and other member-states of the region for a holistic policing.

The Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Eastern Naval Command (ENC), Rear Admiral Joseph Aikhomu said that the Gulf of Guinea was facing numerous security challenges like piracy, crude oil theft and illegal bunkering, unreported and unregulated fishing, drug and human trafficking as well as proliferation of small and light weapons.

These challenges which he described as disturbing, prompted the Nigerian Navy to collaborate with the US Office of Security Cooperation (OSC) to bring to the fore “the necessity of improving maritime domain awareness of the Gulf of Guinea and the need for member-states to collaborate in terms of intelligence gathering and information sharing.”

The FOC revealed that “the US has assisted many Africa countries to establish coastal surveillance stations, hence the need for collaboration and cooperation to meet the emerging challenges.” According to him, the need to check crime in the region was because of its strategic importance as Nigeria and other countries within the gulf depended on the sea for transportation, food, trade, energy and capital.“ All of which are essential ingredients of national security and imperatives of economic growth and national development,” he said.

It is in the light of the above that the Federal Government has ordered that any port and terminal facility across the country having security deficiencies be shut down following the arrival of officials of the United States Coast Guards in Nigeria to carry out security audit exercise on Nigerian ports.

Maritime stakeholders hoped that all these measures being put in place will help to curb this stigma that has robbed Nigeria of income worth billions of naira.

Also, the federal government has also been advised to appoint experienced experts to oversee the administration of the maritime industry and grant private sector a high degree of control in the industry.


Experts said that piracy has thrived because the pirates know they can get away with their crimes. They, therefore, said that the only well-coordinated efforts among different national agencies and international navies will reduce piracy incidents. They also said that the capacity of the navy, the agency statutorily vested with the power to police the seas, should be strengthened for effective service delivery.

Newswatch Times


WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners



…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live



The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured



…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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