By Foster Obi
For the first time in five years, Nigeria recorded the least cases of piracy and armed robbery attacks across its coastal waters against its ships globally as witnessed in the first half of 2022, according to a recent report by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).
The report shows that none of the 58 incidents reported globally in the first six months of 2022 occurred in Nigeria.
The record is the least Nigeria has experienced since 2018 when 31 cases were reported in the country in the first six months of the year.
The report said that the first half of 2022 witnessed the least cases of piracy and vessel hijack globally since 2018 with only 58 reported cases compared to 68 cases within the same period in 2021.
Following the IMB report, tagged ‘Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ship’, out of the 58 incidents, 12 incidents of piracy were reported in the Gulf of Guinea, and 10 cases were classified as armed robbery and the remaining two were referred to as ”Piracy Attacks” – with none of them occurring in Nigerian waters.
Reacting to the report, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Bashir Jamoh, said the country is committed to sustaining the momentum of the success recorded in recent times in the fight against piracy in the region.
He noted that the reduction was a direct result of collaboration amongst national, regional, and non-regional stakeholders.
The DG referred to the IMB Director, Michael Howlett, comment that, “Not only is this good news for the seafarers and the shipping industry, but it is also positive news for trade which promotes economic growth, adding, “but the areas of risk shift and the shipping community must remain vigilant. We encourage governments and responding authorities to continue their patrols which create a deterrent effect.”
The Nigerian Navy has also basked in the enveloping euphoria. The United States Government yesterday commended the Navy for its role in reducing piracy in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) region.
The United States Consul General in Lagos, HE William Stevens made this commendation when the United States Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk arrived Lagos to strengthen its bilateral relations with its Nigerian counterpart.
On a courtesy call to the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Western Naval Command (WNC), Rear Admiral Yakubu Wambai, at the Command’s Headquarters Office in Apapa, Lagos, he said the visit strengthened bilateral ties between the two nations as they continue to fight piracy in both Nigerian waters and GoG.
Consul General Will Stevens welcomed the ship’s arrival, and noted, “the United States is committed to supporting the Nigerian Navy in its efforts to both secure its own territorial waters and those of the greater Gulf of Guinea.
“Cooperation and the ability to operate together in the maritime domain are necessary to enhance Nigeria’s capacity to counter piracy, oil bunkering, illegal fishing, and other sea-based illicit activities.”
Stressing that the Nigerian Navy had increased its capabilities in light of recent efforts that have resulted in zero piracy attempts for several months, he said: ” I am here accompanying my colleagues from the US Coast Guard – MOHAWK, as we come to partner with Nigerian colleagues in combating piracy here in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea.
“We have been long-term partners with the Nigerian Navy, and we are so proud of the Navy for the great work that they have done to reduce piracy last year, with no piracy this year, and down by 90 per cent , with their colleagues across the Gulf of Guinea.
“It is an incredible achievement and I think a mark of increasing capacity has been made here.”
In response, Admiral Wambai appreciated the visiting Consul General and the ship’s company for recognising the navy’s capability and competence.
He said: “There have been indices and we have been working hard to achieve this. The international maritime bureau, in April 2022, delisted Nigeria from the list of pirate states. That means we have not heard any piracy incidents over the last 12 months”
“This is a collaborative efforts which is a deliberate effort but it is a planned work due to the leadership of the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo that has put in a task and a timeline and followed up with proper guidelines ensuring that we maintain a close relationships with our foreign partners.
“Going forward, such collaboration will continue and that is why you are seeing the US Coast Guard – MOHAWK, in Nigeria, and we will continue to have this collaborative effort of international partners working together with us to ensure the necessary synergy in combating this scourge as no one country can do that alone.”
But while the IMB hailed the decline in reported occurrences as encouraging, it also condemned the fact that many of the attacks on vessels were reported late changing the numbers in the table in subsequent reports.
”This report provides an analysis of 58 global maritime piracy and armed robbery incidents reported to the IMB from January to 30 June 2022. Incidents are occasionally reported late, resulting in changes to the table and figures in subsequent reports.”
The group highlighted that events had been reported up to 212 nautical miles from the country’s shores.
Nautical miles are used to measure the distance travelled through the water.
The IMB, therefore, urged shippers to increase their vigilance in protecting their vessels, stating that many hijacking incidents during the first year may potentially have gone undetected.
Nigeria’s piracy index shows that the country recorded 31 cases of actual and attempted vessel hijacking in 2018 out of 107 cases that were reported across international waters in the first six months of the year, and 201 cases globally at the end of the year, an increase of 87 per cent.
In 2019, Nigeria recorded 21 cases of vessel attacks across its waters out of the 78 cases of global maritime piracy and armed robbery incidents reported to IMB from January to June, and 162 cases at a 107.6 per cent increase worldwide at year-end.
According to the index, Nigeria reported 41 vessel hijacking cases in 2020, from the 98 cases that were reported globally in international waters in the first half of the year, and 195 cases that were recorded at the end of the year, at 98.97 per cent increase.
Out of the 68 occurrences of international maritime piracy reported between January to June of 2021, Nigeria had four incidents of vessel attacks across its waters in the first half of the year – and 132 cases, representing a 94.11 per cent increase globally.
FOSTER OBI is editor, DFCNewsng.com
Picture: Nimasa DG, Dr Bashir Jamoh and Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo