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Nigeria’s Notable Response To Maritime Crimes In Gulf Of Guinea

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Nigeria's Notable Response To Maritime Crimes In Gulf Of Guinea

… Gaya Encapsulates Country’s Towering Strength on Independence Day***

  1. The Gulf of Guinea is the northernmost part of the tropical Atlantic Ocean comprising a vast and diverse region starting from Senegal to Angola covering approximately 6000KM of Coastline. It covers 2 geopolitical and economic areas; The Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

This maritime domain is rich in hydrocarbon deposits, mineral resources as well as different species of fisheries and marine resources.

The region is also an important shipping zone with a lot of maritime endowments that made it attractive to various criminal elements and non-state actors. These non-state actors exploit the lack of cohesion and diversity of the Gulf of Guinea states, inadequate law of enforcement capacity, corruption, and lack of adequate logistics to engage in maritime criminality such as piracy/armed robbery at sea/kidnap for ransom and environmental pollution.

The rich hydrocarbon resources and vast aquatic life in the region also lead to illegal oil bunkering/pipeline vandalism and Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated fishing. The sea lanes have also been exploited for weapons trafficking, drugs, and other contraband goods.

  1. At a time the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) released a report saying the Gulf of Guinea, off the West African coast, is increasingly dangerous to commercial shipping and account for over ninety percent (90%) of maritime kidnappings worldwide.

It was also believed that areas of the Niger Delta of Nigeria were an epicenter of piracy in the world. These areas have witnessed a hydra-headed and complex trend of attacks by various criminal groups which have greatly hampered the economic viability of the region.

NOTICEABLE TREND OF ATTACKS ON SHIPPING

  1. There are some noticeable trends in the mode of attacks on shipping in the Gulf of Guinea that warranted decisive actions by Nigeria. These were informed through careful study of the trends which include area and range of attack target ships, motives of attack, and the use of violence. These are discussed subsequently.

Area of attacks. The areas off Bayelsa, off Rivers, and off Delta State of Nigeria are believed to be the most affected by acts of piracy and other maritime crimes. Prior to the achievement of the relative peace currently witnessed in the Gulf of Guinea, the aforementioned areas were hot spots for varying degrees of maritime crimes.

However, there was a paradigm shift where criminals perpetuating these crimes began to abandon their traditional attack zones and spread their influence outside Nigerian waters. This might not be unconnected with robust actions put up by the Nigerian Navy against maritime crimes. It is also owed to the strengthening of the Yaounde Architecture for Maritime Safety and Security. These are achieved using the instrument of the Multinational Maritime Coordination Centre and the West Africa Regional Maritime Security Centre (CRESMAO) for effective response coordination.

Range of attacks:

The pirates operated deep into the sea up to 244nm, and as far as Cote d’Ivoire to the West and to Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, oftentimes extending to Angola to the East of Nigeria’s epicenter.

The wide area coverage by the pirates was informed by a quest for vulnerable and lucrative grounds and a safe haven beyond the reach of states’ counter-piracy efforts. Nigerian Navy, in particular, has some high endurance vessels that can venture deep into the ocean.

These have proffered an extended reach and a credible and sustained maritime presence which serves as a deterrent and interception capability in the Gulf of Guinea.

More so, there are air assets ranging from rotary to fixed-wing maritime patrol aircraft and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles which serve as early warning, interception and intervention capabilities for the Nigerian Navy. Additionally, they enable the attainment of time on task and sustained reach.

Target Ships

The ships targeted for attacks were mostly Cargo vessels, Container Ships, Supply Vessels, and Bulk Carriers which present the possibility of having a large number of expatriates onboard. However, the trend gradually shifted to Fishing Trawlers. Their low freeboard and slow speed during the fishing operations made it easier to board by pirates.

Motives for Attack

Attacks on the aforementioned types of vessels were carried out mainly for monetary or material gains. Historical trend indicates that ships have been attacked and ransacked for valuables such as cash, laptops, mobile phones, or any other things of value. Tankers have also been attacked for their contents being either crude oil or refined petroleum products.

Use of Violence

Pirates in the Gulf of Guinea area known to be heavily armed, rancorous, and violent in attacks that sometimes result in trauma, injury, or death to victims. They employ intimidation and torture tactics to extort their victims and/or employers. Oftentimes, when their demands are not met, it results in losses of lives and properties.

KEY EVENTS IN THE GULF OF GUINEA

The Gulf of Guinea is currently enjoying a relative calm.

The exposé by the International Maritime Bureau on the security situation and non-occurrence of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea during the year under review is a testament to robust security efforts of the Nigerian Navy in the Gulf of Guinea. This has convinced stakeholders to believe that the bad days are over.

However, it is pertinent to highlight some past events that occurred in the Gulf. Some of the major events include:

HIJACK OF HAILUFENG 11

HAILUFENG 11 was hijacked on 15 May 2020 at Cote d’Ivoire. The Hijackers sailed the ship towards Ghana maritime border crossing over to Togo. Intelligence report prompted the Beninese Navy about the presence of the pirated ship in their waters.

Consequently, Benin Navy responded by dispatching patrol ship ZOU towards the position given by the Chinese Embassy in Cotonou. They notify all the maritime operation centres under the Yaoundé Architecture, especially the Multinational Maritime Co-ordination Centre, Zone E.

The intervention of the Chinese became expedient because the pirated vessel switched off her AIS making detection difficult. The first position supplied by the Chinese gives the position of the ship at about 130nm South of Cotonou at 1148hrs on 16 May 2020.

Unfortunately, HAILUFENG 11 slipped into Nigerian waters.

On the Nigerian side, NNS NGURU cast off at about 1350 on 16 May 2020 with seven (07) NN Special Boat Service (SBS) personnel embarked.

The boat proceeded to the sea towards the last reported position of HAILUFENG 11.

However, the hijacked vessel was intercepted at about 2045 at a position 140nm south of Lagos Fairway Buoy.

The vessel ignored all orders to surrender via loud hailer and VHF radio.

Warning and later direct shots were fired at the superstructure. A non–compliant/opposed boarding was executed when all efforts to stop the ship proved abortive.

The Nigerian Navy Special Boat Service boarded the HAILUFENG 11 when she was proceeding at a speed of 9.5 knots. The boarding team took control of the ship at 2210 and rescued 18 crew members consisting of 8 Chinese, 3 Ghanaians, and 7 Ivorians.

The ten (10) pirates arrested were of Nigerian origin who left Nigeria by road to Ghana.

While in Ghana, they made an attempt to hijack a vessel but failed.

The criminals later decided to move to Cote d’Ivoire and made another attempt using a wooden boat which resulted in the hijack of MV HAILUFENG 11.

To achieve the legal end.

The criminals were tried under the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Act 2019. The court sentenced the 10 criminals to 12 years imprisonment with an additional fine of Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira only (N250, 000.00) on each of the 3 count charges.

 

STRATEGIES ADOPTED BY NIGERIA

Nigeria has adopted an improved strategy for effective naval presence at sea and ashore. This was achieved through the creation of new naval bases in Lagos State as well as Forward Operating Bases in Lekki and Oguta Lake in Imo State.

The Nigerian Navy has also established bases in the hinterlands of Cross River and Niger States such as Naval Base Mfum and Naval Base SHAGUNU respectively.

The Nigerian Navy also established a type A Naval Base in Lake Chad, Borno State. Other efforts emplaced by Nigeria include fleet capitalization for the Nigerian Navy as well as Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure. These are discussed subsequently.

FLEET RECAPITALIZATION

  1. In recent times the Nigerian Navy took delivery of a new survey ship, NNS LANA in 2021, and NNS KADA in May 2022.

There are also other platforms awaiting delivery to the Nigerian Navy these include High endurance offshore patrol vessels, fast patrol boats, Aluminum Airboats, new Helicopters, and various brands of Unmanned Aerial vehicles. Induction of these Maritime assets has enhanced the Navy’s deterrence capabilities and would make the Gulf of Guinea even safer.

NIMASA DEEP BLUE PROJECT

  1. The Deep Blue project otherwise known as the Integrated National Security and waterways protection infrastructure was launched by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on 10 June 2021.

The project was financed by the Nigerian Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Defense, through the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA and is consisting of Land, Maritime, and Air Assets.

  1. DEEP BLUE LAND ASSETS:

The Deep Blue land Assets include the Command, Control Communication Computer, and Intelligence Centre (C4i) for intelligence gathering and data collection, 16 armored vehicles for coastal patrol, and 600 specially trained troops for interdiction operation, known as the Marine Security Unit.

  1. THE MARITIME AND AIR ASSETS. The Maritime Assets consist of special mission ships, seventeen fast interceptor boats while the air assets comprised two special mission maritime patrol Aircraft and 3 special mission helicopters for the surveillance of the maritime domain up to the Exclusive Economic Zone and for Search and Rescue respectively. 4 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles include in the Deep Blue project.

The objective of these assets just like the Nigerian Navy fleet renewal is to tackle incidences of Maritime Security in the Nigerian Maritime Domain.

LEGAL FINISH

  1. The Nigerian Government has made giant strides in enacting legal provisions to curb maritime crimes that have erstwhile bedeviled the waterways. Some of these legal provisions include the Harmonised Standard Operating Procedures for Arrest, Detention, and Prosecution of maritime offenders which was drafted by the Nigerian Navy and was acceded to by the Vice President.

Thereafter, NIMASA championed the the enactment of Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) act which was adopted by the Nigerian President in 2019.

The objective of the Act is to prevent and deter piracy, armed robbery at sea, and other maritime criminalities not only in Nigeria but for the benefit of all states in the Gulf of Guinea.

EFFECTIVE NATIONAL AND REGIONAL INFORMATION NETWORKS

  1. Nigeria has agreed to adopt the full implementation of Yaounde architecture for Maritime Safety and Security with a view to sustaining the present low level of pirate attacks enjoyed throughout the Gulf Of Guinea. It also advises countries in the region to institutionalize a framework for regular dialogue that guarantees collaborative decision-making and effective information sharing.

COMMENTS

  1. The Effective implementation of all these strategies may have been responsible for the improvement of maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea as Nigeria is working assiduously not only at sea but also on land.

A lot is being done by Nigeria to dismantle the piracy support networks on land. Exercises such as Operation DAKATAR DA BARAWO which is effectively dismantling all illegal artisanal refineries that is believed to be the source of finance and support for piracy and other crimes in the Maritime environment.

This operation is ongoing and has achieved success. Fleet renewal and the acquisition of the Deep Blue Assets by Nigeria also served as a deterrence to the criminal elements. Others also attributed the improvement in Maritime Security in the Gulf of Guinea to the deterrence achieved by the controversial attack of the Danish Navy against alleged pirates in the waters off Nigeria’s Niger Delta in November 2021.

Some pundits are waiting for the period between November and March, called the pirate hunting season to ascertain the cessation of high-profile attacks by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea.

 

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Police Arrest 30 Suspected Railway Vandals

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Motor Park Attacks: Osun Police Recover 5 guns, Arrest 10 Suspects

The Railway Police Command on Monday said that 30 suspected railway vandals were arrested between September and October 2022.

This is contained in a statement issued by CP Yetunde Longe, the Commissioner of Police for the Command.

President Muhammadu Buhari had given directives to all service chiefs and Nigeria Police Force to safeguard the railway infrastructure across the federation.

“Following the directives from the President, the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba Alkali, directed the Railway Police Command to engage the Direct Action Response Tactics (DART), to effectively protect the railway corridors from vandals.

“The command recorded big success on Sept.8, acting upon credible information, as men of the Railway Police Command swooped on some criminal elements that had been involved in recurrent vandalism and theft of railway iron sleepers at the section KM 1086 Sheme Town in Faskari LGA of Kastina State; leading to the arrest of 14 suspects.

“It was gathered that the suspects after their exchange of fire with the policemen abandoned a trailer truck with Reg. No. Nasarawa LFA 307XB and a Sharon car.

“However, further relentless combing of the crime scene led to the arrest of the suspects on Sept. 10,” she said.

The CP identified the suspects as Muhammed Lawan, 35; Umar Garba, 28; Sahana iliyasu, 22; Bashiru Abdulrahaman, 20; Dauda Musa, 27; Ahmad Sani  21; Muhammed Haruna 20.

Others are Gaddafi Bala, 21; Ali Umar, 25; Wudeama Tahiru, 23; John Jaccob, 22; Ezekiel Gumeret, 26; and Sulaimon Musa, 20.

“Similarly, on Sept. 26, 2022, the Rigasa Railway Divisional Police Headquarters arrested five suspects in connection with the vandalism of some window frames at Gidan Buse substation,” she said.

Longe identified the suspects as Sadi Mohammed, 26; Nasiru Yakubu, 35; Yau Ibrahim 26; while two others: Buhari Samlia, 25;  and Aliyu Abdulahi, 24 were also arrested for the same crime on Oct.17, 2022.

The police commissioner said that the police officers at the Funtua Railway Police Division, Katsina State.

The commissioner added that her men also raided the hideout of some  notorious railway vandals and arrested four suspected vandals  who were in possession of 100  railway iron sleepers and 60 cut-to-size triangular iron pieces belonging to the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC)

The CP said that on Nov. 4 and 14, “Men of the Kafanchan Railway Police Division and the men of the Nigerian Army School of Artillery intercepted two trucks with Registration numbers: MJB-367XA & DAL-754ZX.

“The trucks were loaded with 45 and 37-long rail irons respectively. Three suspects each: Adamu Lawal,32; Tajudeen Yusuf,27; Sulieman Lawal,19; Abdulkadir Idris  45; Garba Sule,37; and Bilyaminu Ahmadu,37; were arrested in connection with the crime,” she said.

The CP said that the Bauchi Divisional Headquarters upon a credible tip-off also intercepted a J5 bus with registration number XC318BAU.

“The suspects in the bus upon sighting the policemen fled, abandoning the bus loaded with 50 pieces of Railway sleepers concealed with firewood.

“The bus and exhibits have been taken into police custody, while investigations to apprehend the suspects continue.

“Recently, Port Harcourt Railway Police Division also made an arrest of one suspect at the Port Harcourt Railway station.

“The suspect, James Wisdom, 25; was caught stealing some seats of first-class train coaches parked at the railway station,” Longe said.

The commissioner of police said that investigations would be swiftly concluded and the culprits would be duly charged to court.

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NDLEA Arrests Cripple, Seizes 5.8 tons of Skunk, Cannabis in 5 States

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NDLEA Arrests Cripple, Seizes 5.8 tons of Skunk, Cannabis in 5 States

 The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) has arrested a cripple, Ibrahim Yusuf, 45, amongst other drugs dealers, in an onslaught which resulted in the seizure of 5.8 tonnes of cannabis from dealers across five states

The agency’s spokesman, Mr. Femi Babafemi, said on Sunday in Abuja, noting that the cripple was in possession of 4kg of the psychotropic substance, at the time of his arrest.

He said that the cripple drug dealer was arrested on Nov. 21 at Gasline, Ifo in Ogun State.

The spokesman also said that a total of 36 bags weighing 570kg of the same substance were recovered in a raid at a forest in Ogunmakin, Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of the state.

According to him, the NDLEA operatives on Nov. 22, evacuated 141 bags of Cannabis Sativa with a gross weight of 1,884 kg stored in a warehouse in Okpe forest, Akoko Edo LGA in Edo.

“On Thursday, Nov. 24, NDLEA officers arrested Ismaila Abubakar, 50, at Okada junction, Ovia South West LGA with 22 bags of cannabis sativa weighing 216.5kg.

*The crippled drug dealer arrested by the NDLEA operatives

“A day after, operatives also seized 112 bags of cannabis sativa stored in Obi Camp forest, Ovia South West LGA weighing 1, 512kg.

“This was also followed by another seizure of 45 bags that weighed 529.5kg, while officers equally intercepted a Toyota Sienna bus with Reg. No. BDG 598 FZ (Lagos) loaded with 566.5kg cannabis.

“The bus was going to Onitsha, Anambra, and a suspect, Sunday Mathias, 30, was arrested with the seizure,” he said.

Babafemi said that NDLEA operatives also stormed Oke-Ogun forest on Nov. 25, where one Onyebuchi Chime was arrested with 88kg of cannabis, a gun and some ammunition in Ondo State.

He added that the NDLEA operatives also recovered 149.5kg of the substance at Ipele forest.

“Not less than 12.42 hectares of cannabis farms were destroyed and 195kg processed weeds of the substance recovered at Efon Alaye, Ekiti State.

“Two drug dealers: Richard Ebong and Nze Abraham were arrested on Saturday Nov. 26 during the raid,” he said.

The NDLEA spokesman said that 27-year-old Mrs. Rahmat Adebayo was arrested on Nov. 24 at Sabo-Ilupeju, Atiba LGA of Oyo State with 136.3kg cannabis.

Babafemi said that no fewer than 84,000 pills of Tramadol tablets were recovered from a suspect, Muhsin Abdullahi in Bodinga area of Sokoto state on Thursday.

He added that 16,000 pills of Exol-5 and D5 concealed in palm oil were seized from one Lawal Rabe, 24, on Friday at Kokami village, Danja LGA, Katsina State.

Also, 54,500 tablets of Tramadol and Exol-5 were seized from the duo of Basiru Muhammadu and Saidu Yusuf in the same area on Saturday.

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Gunmen Kill Ondo Security Guards, Cut-off head, hand; Bauchi Police arrest 12-year-old, over kidnap of toddler 

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Gunmen Kill 2 Security Guards, Cut off head, hand in Ondo State

Gunmen have killed two security guards in different locations at Ikare-Akoko, Akoko Northeast Local Government Area of Ondo State, making the State’s security layer, popularly called Amotekun look flat-footed.

It was gathered that the gunmen raided the government-owned Mimiko Market and NASFAT Schools in the Ikare-Akoko metropolis, killed the guards and dismembered their bodies, leaving their remains in a pool of blood.

According to a source, the gunmen attacked the two places in the middle of the night on Friday while the deceased were found in a pool of blood on Saturday.

“The gunmen killed one of the guards and cut off his head and placed the head beside his body while the other man’s hand was cut and placed beside him too.

The source, who said that the killers did not take anything from the deceased before they left the scene, added that the way and manner the suspected bandits carried out the attack raised the suspicion of ritual killing.

Confirming the incident, the state Police Public Relations Officer, (PPRO) SP Olufunmilayo Odunlami, said that the police had deposited the remains of the deceased in mortuary of state specialist hospital, Ikare-Akoko.

“We have commenced investigation into the incident, and the criminals will soon be arrested,” the PPRO said.

In another development, the Bauchi State Police Commissioner, Mr. Aminu Alhassan has confirmed the arrest of a 12-year-old boy for allegedly kidnapping a three-year-old.

This is contained in a statement issued on Saturday in Bauchi by police spokesman in the state, SP Ahmad Wakil.

He stated that the 12-year-old kidnapped the baby in Magama Gumau community in Toro Local Government Area of the state.

According to him, the suspect lured the victim into an isolated area and placed a telephone call to her father demanding N150,000 as ransom for the captive’s release.

“A discreet investigation revealed that the suspect lured the victim to an isolated place near a football field at Kara Area of Magama Gumau and called the victim’s father on phone and made the demand.

“On hearing the demand, the victim’s father hung up and refused to take subsequent calls.

“After a while, the victim’s father called the suspect and identified him through his familiar voice.

“He called his name, but the suspect kept mute, hung up, swiftly took the girl to her parent’s house where he told the family that he sighted her crying near a football field,’’ SP Wakil stated.

He added that the victim’s family immediately reported the suspect to the police for necessary action.

Wakil stated also that during interrogation, the suspect confessed to the crime and said he would have used the ransom money to buy clothes and phones.

“Investigation also showed that the suspect got to know about kidnapping for ransom when some time ago, his friend was kidnapped in Kano State.

“Those who kidnapped his friend were paid ransom before he was released and that was how the suspect learned that money must be paid to set a kidnap victim free,’’ he stated.

Wakil added that the police commissioner in the state, Mr Aminu Alhassan, admonished parents and guardians to maintain strict vigilance over their wards and children.

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