Nigerian Military Thwarts Pirate Attack
On Sunday, the Nigerian military said that its forces had thwarted an attack on a merchant tanker and, separately, had made an arrest in connection with pipeline vandalism in the Niger Delta.
“Troops of Operation Base 2 repelled a hijack of a vessel (MT VAJARA) by heavily armed bandits in Ramos River, around Agge area of Delta state,” Lieutenant Commander Thomas Otuji said in a statement. He indicated that there was a heavy exchange of gunfire between troops and the pirates.
The Vajara is a 3,000 dwt product tanker, built in 1981 and owned and operated in Nigeria. The Ramos River is just south of the Shell Forcados terminal in the Western Niger Delta.
In a separate incident reported to the IMB on October 18, three men attempted to board a product tanker at anchor off Lagos. As the pirates’ boat tried to come alongside, the watchstanders sounded the ship’s whistle and started the fire pump. The pirates aborted their attack when they saw an alert crew and razor wire hardening at the tanker’s rails.
In addition, on shore near the city of Warri, "five suspected vandals were arrested and they confessed to their plan to vandalise . . . wellheads," Otuji said. He also indicated that a group of travelers had been attacked by pirates in Cross River and Rivers states, and that soldiers had killed the attackers.
Pipeline and installation vandalism has become common in the Delta since President Muhammadu Buhari said that he would wind down amnesty payments to former militants in the region. Peace talks aimed at resolving the recent unrest may begin soon; the most recognized group of saboteurs, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, said on Sunday that it was ready to negotiate. The Niger Delta Avengers, a separatist group responsible for multiple pipeline attacks in the Delta region, indicated on October 20 that it has suspended hostilities.