• Incidences reduced in 2019, says IMB
It is not yet cheery news for Nigeria, as latest piracy report showed that Lagos recorded the highest number for incidences for any port.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) report said despite reporting more attacks than any other country, Nigeria still witnessed reduced incidence of piracy attacks in the third quarter (Q3) from 41 in 2018 to 29 in 2019.
IMB stated that: “The Gulf of Guinea remained a high risk area for piracy and armed robbery. The region accounts for 86 per cent of crew taken hostage, and nearly 82 per cent of crew kidnappings globally.
“Lagos recorded 11 incidents in 2019, the highest number for any port,” it stated.
The report showed that the first nine months saw fewer incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships than the corresponding period of 2018.
According to the report, 119 incidents were reported to IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) in 2019, compared to 156 a year ago.
Overall, the 2019 incidents included 95 vessels boarded, 10 vessels fired upon, 10 attempted attacks, and four vessels hijacked. The number of crew taken hostage during the period also decreased from 112 in 2018 to 49 in 2019.
Director, ICC IMB, Pottengal Mukundan, said: “Although incidents are down, the Gulf of Guinea continues to be a concern for piracy and armed robbery-related activities with kidnappings of crew members increasing in both scale and frequency.”
The report added that Indonesia continued on a downward trend in overall piracy-related incidents with 20 actual and attempted attacks at Q3 end.
It attributed this to continued information sharing between the Indonesian Marine Police and the IMB PRC, while also noting that for the first time, no piracy-related incidents were recorded in Somalia during the period.
Despite this, IMB PRC advised ship owners to remain cautious when transiting these waters.
Worried by the attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria recently hosted the Global Maritime Security Conference, where major stakeholders charted part to a safe ocean.
Nigeria also offered to champion the fight against maritime crime, with the floating of a new Maritime Transport Plan and Strategy.
President, Mohammadu Buhari, at the conference, said the new plan when completed would “provide a robust enabling framework for achieving Nigerian maritime objectives.”
He said the Strategy will also foster public-private collaboration, and interregional cooperation on maritime security across Africa.
Buhari, represented by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada, said: “the Gulf of Guinea today is at the epicentre of maritime security discussions globally, given the incidents recorded in the region.”
He said statistics have shown that efforts to eradicate the menace by the governments in the region are bearing dividends.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibot Ekwe Ibas, said drawing from its Total Spectrum Maritime Strategy, the Nigerian Navy has sustained its trinity action comprising surveillance capabilities, response initiatives, and law enforcement to combat maritime crimes.