By Godwin Oritse
The International Maritime Bureau, IMB, has reported a significant drop in the rate of piracy attacks on Nigeria’s waters. But the decline did not remove the country’s name from the top position in the global piracy chart.
The IMB, in its 2019 third quarter, Q3’19, report, said that piracy incidences in Nigeria reduced to 29 in Q3’19 from 41 in 2018.
The Bureau also said there was a decrease in global piracy incidents during the first nine months of 2019, compared with the corresponding period in 2018, in a fall to a five-year low.
According to the report, while 119 incidents were reported in the first nine months of 2019, 156 attacks were recorded in 2018.
Overall, the 2019 incidents include 95 vessels boarded by the criminals, 10 vessels fired upon, 10 involved in other forms of attempted attacks, and four vessels hijacked.
The number of crew taken hostage through the first nine months also declined to 49 in 2019 from 112 in 2018.
However, according to IMB, piracy and armed robbery attacks remain a challenge in the Gulf of Guinea.
Apart from Nigeria that is topping the chart with 29 attacks, Indonesia, in the IMB 2019 report, recorded 20 attacks as against 31 in 2019, while Malaysia came third with 10 attacks and Venezuela came fourth with six attacks.
According to the report, attacks peaked in the month of May with 21 incidents while June recorded the lowest with only two.
On a regional basis, Africa led the chart with 53 attacks closely followed by the South Eastern region of Asia with 35 attacks, America with 23 East Asia 5 and India Sub-continent with 3 attacks.
Reacting to the development, Mr, Isichei Osamgbi, a Deputy Director and Head of Public Relations of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, said that the decline in piracy and armed robbery attacks on vessels came as the Deep Blue initiative currently championed by the agency through its Integrated Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, has started yielding results.
The Deep Blue Project aims at building a formidable integrated surveillance and security architecture that will broadly combat maritime crime and criminalities in Nigeria’s waterways up to the Gulf of Guinea.
IMB had noted that the Gulf of Guinea remains a high risk area for piracy and armed robbery.
The region accounts for 86% of the crew taken hostage and nearly 82% of crew kidnappings globally. Lagos recorded 11 incidents in 2019, the highest number for any port.
“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,” Pottengal Mukundan, Director, International Criminal Court, ICC of the IMB, said.
The report added that Indonesia continued with a trend of the decline in overall piracy related incidents with 20 actual and attempted attacks for the first nine months of 2019. IMB noted that this could be attributed to continued information sharing between the Indonesian Marine Police and the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre.
Worth noting is that no piracy-related incidents were recorded in Somalia for the first nine months of 2019. But despite this, IMB advised ship owners to remain cautious when transiting these waters.