Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, has said that the Federal Government is winning the war against pirate attacks and other criminalities on the nation’s territorial waters.
Speaking yesterday during a courtesy call on him by members of the Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN), Akpobolokemi said that the Federal Government remained committed to the war against piracy. He said the success recorded by the agency so far was largely due to the cooperation of other security agencies especially the Nigerian Navy.
He said because of the current onslaught against their operations, Nigerian pirates have fled the nation’s territorial waters as they now operate in the deep sea on international waters as was the case in the recent hijacking of the MT Kerela off Angola.
“We are already seeking the ooperation of other countries in the sub-region to put an end to their criminal activities in the Gulf of Guinea,” the NIMASA boss stated.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reported early this year that while the number of pirate attacks worldwide was down to a six-year low last year, thanks to a significant fall in incidents off Somalia, the number of Nigerian piracy attacks increased to their highest level since 2008.
IMB said that With 31 pirate attacks recorded, Nigeria was second to Indonesia, which saw the most attacks last year with 106.
The IMB’s annual global piracy report, which was released mid-January said, “Nigerian pirates were particularly violent, killing one crew member and kidnapping 36 people to hold onshore for ransom”.
According to the report, incidents off West Africa now account for almost one fifth of the worldwide total.
In total, there were 264 attacks on ships last year, a 40 percent drop from 2011 when Somalia piracy was at its peak and 237 attacks occurred in that region alone.
Some 300 people were taken hostage last year with 12 ships hijacked, 202 boarded and 22 fired upon, while there were a further 28 attempted hijackings, the maritime bureau said.
West Africa accounted for 19 percent of all attacks in 2013, said IMB. “Nigerian pirates and armed robbers accounted for 31 of the region’s 51 attacks, taking 49 people hostage and kidnapping 36, more than in any year since 2008.”
“Nigerian pirates ventured far into waters off Gabon, Ivory Coast and Togo, where they were linked with at least five of the region’s seven reported vessel hijackings,” the IMB added.