By Godwin Oritse
DESPITE Nigeria’s effort to curb the menace of pirates attacks on vessels particularly in the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria has continued to lead other countries of the world that are bedevilled by the negative impact of pirates.
In the report of the International Maritime Bureau, IMB, January – June 2019, Nigeria led the table of pirate attacks with 21 recorded incidents between January and June, as against 31 for the period of 2018, thereby beating Indonesia, recorded 11, Venezuela 6 attacks and Peru with 4 attacks in six months.
According to the report, the four locations contributed 55 per cent to the total 77 attacks reported in the period as against 75 per cent of 106 attacks reported in 2018.
In the report, pirates and sea robbers are often well-armed, violent and have attacked, hijacked, robbed ships, kidnapped crew along far from the coasts, rivers, anchorages, ports and surrounding waters.
While six-country namely Nigeria, Ghana, Benin, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Venezuela featured on that pirate attack chart in 2018, Nigeria and three other countries with Peru coming in as a new entrant on the chart.
All kind of weapons like guns knives and other dangerous material was deployed to carry out attacks on vessels, a development that led to some seafarers being injured and kidnapped.
Parts of the report read “In the past, incidents reported up to about 170 Nautical Miles from the coast. In many past incidents, pirates hijacked the vessels for several days and ransacked the vessels and stole part of the cargo usually gas oil.
“A number of crew members were also injured and kidnapped in these incidents. Generally, all waters in and off Nigeria remain risky. Vessels are advised to be vigilant as many incidents may have gone unreported.
“Incident continues to rise substantially especially the kidnapping of crews for ransom. Vessels are advised to take additional measures in the high-risk waters.
Although, there was a reduction in the number of attacks in the African region Nigeria still led the continent all through 2018 and the first half of this year.
In first six months of 2018, 39 bulk carriers were attacked as against 20 in 2019.
For container vessels, 9 vessels were attacked in 2019 while 6 attacks were reported in 2018 as against Crude oil tanker that reported 9 in 2018 and 12 in 2019.
For Chemical tankers and offshore tug vessels, 30 and 3 vessels were reported in 2019 while 22 and 2 attacks were reported in 2019.
Vessels carrying Liquefied Natural Gas, LNG and Liquefied Petroleum Gas, LPG, had no reported cases in 2018 but had one of such vessels attacked in 2019.
Reaction to the development, Mr Adebayo Olatoke, an officer in the International Ships and Ports Facility Security, ISPS Code Unit of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA said that the IMB has a lot of sources of information adding that most times this information is not correct.
Olatoke also said that a lot of wrong information is passed across adding that most of these reports are unverified.
He said: “This is a manipulation of the system, most of these reports are made after these vessels travel out of our waters.
“If they are attacked, the attacks are carried out on our waters but the captain of the vessel is reporting, he will report the fact that the place of attack in Nigeria.
“With the signing of the law against pirate attack in Nigeria, the waters will become uncomfortable for pirates in another six months.