Nigeria Promotes Decline in Piracy in Gulf of Guinea

Nigeria cites drop in piracy activity
Nigeria added new vessels to the fight in 2021 with its Deep Blue initiative (NIMASA)

Published Dec 20, 2021 6:17 PM by The Maritime Executive

Nigerian authorities are seeking to highlight the decline of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea as they work to rehabilitate the reputation of the region and attract new investments.  They are promoting the overall decline in activity while saying that they are working to expand the efforts and further involve forces ranging from the police to the navy to continue the progress. 

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency’s (NIMASA) Director General, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, used his presentation at a roundtable entitled “Seafarers and Maritime Capacity at the Core of Africa’s Shipping Future,” to highlight recent declines both in kidnappings and attacks on ships at anchor in the country. 

“There has been a decline in piracy attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, as the region recorded 28 incidents of piracy and armed robbery in the first nine months of 2021, in comparison to 46 for the same period in 2020,” Jamoh said during his presentation. “Crew kidnappings in the region have dropped with only one crew member kidnapped in Q3 2021, compared to 31 crew members taken in five separate incidents during Q3 2020.”

The presentation highlighting the decline in kidnappings, however, came as details continued to filter out on the latest incident involving a containership in the region. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland provided some of the first official details following reports by the security services and a brief statement from the Danish Foreign Ministry. The Polish Ministry confirmed that one of the six individuals taken was a Polish citizen and said it was working with on the return of their seafarer.

The incident took place on December 13, but there was some confusion on the exact number of people involved as some crew members were thought to be hiding on the containership. The containership, the Greek-owned Tonsberg is a 5,551 TEU vessel operating under charter to CMA CGM and is registered in Liberia. It is believed that six crew members were kidnapped and a seventh received a gunshot wound and was being treated aboard a Danish frigate. Dryad reported that this latest incident brought the total to 10 incidents with 76 crew abducted this year.

Speaking at the conference, Nigeria officials cited the economic impact as well as environmental pollution from the piracy activity. They admitted that the attacks were taking place in anchorages and various parts of the country, but said they were meeting with the police to better coordinate efforts with the navy.

“It impacted the seafarers and shipping economically such as loss of revenue due to illegal activities, high insurance premium, a threat to commerce, socially such as arm and drug smuggling, and kidnapping,” they said during the presentation while saying they were committed to continuing the progress cited by Jamoh. He said that various interventions had been introduced to address the situation including passage of new legislation and review of local laws. 

In June 2021, Nigeria launched a coordinated program known as Deep Blue which was outfitted with a broad range of equipment to combat piracy both at the and bases as well as in the country’s territorial waters. International forces are seeking to supplement the effort, but as the Danes highlighted in the recent incident, they were barred from following the pirates with the kidnapped crew when they entered territorial waters.