In its attempt to combat a growing outbreak of piracy, hijackings and kidnappings in the Gulf of Guinea, the Nigerian Navy has decided to attack pirates' equipment: its officials have issued an outright ban on outboard engines in excess of 200 horsepower on the country’s coastal waters.
"It has been observed that criminals carry out their activities at sea with the aid of this class of engines, mounted on boats stowed on mother ships," said Commodore Christian Ezekobe, speaking to Nigeria's Daily Trust. He added that the Navy has confiscated many small craft – commonly known as "go-fast boats" – with engines above 200 horsepower on suspicion of criminal activity.
The need for intervention is serious: there have already been two hijackings and kidnappings so far this month, both on the same day – the attacks on the product tanker Puli and the container ship CMA CGM Turquoise.
In addition, five crewmembers of the product tanker Sampatiki were kidnapped on March 26. Two crewmembers of the Bourbon Offshore OSV Bourbon Liberty 251 and two crewmembers of the product tanker Maximus were kidnapped in February.
The CEO of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside, has said that his agency is working with legislators to pass a new anti-piracy bill to combat the problem. Consultants PGI Intelligence suspect that declining revenue from stolen oil is giving Niger Delta militants an incentive to resort to kidnapping over other forms of piracy, like cargo theft, and that an end to former militants’ amnesty payments is prompting them to renew their involvement in crime.