Concern as pirate cases steady on Nigerian waters
The lingering crime rate on Nigerian waters appears unabated as the nation recorded about 20 attacks on vessels and crewmembers in the last nine months.
This is coming as reports showed that about six crewmembers, including the captain, were kidnapped from a Liberian-flagged containership ‘Demeter’ offshore Bonny.
The attack was conducted by the same group which tried to board a supply vessel a day earlier in the same region but their attempt proved to be unsuccessful.
Sources said at least nine men were being held captive by the same group, which is demanding ransom for their release. However, latest report by International Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB), said: “Nigeria remains risky, as there were 20 reports received against all vessel types for Nigeria, 16 of which occurred off the coast of Brass, Bonny and Bayelsa.
“Guns were reportedly used in 18 of the incidents and vessels were underway in 17 of 20 reports. 39 of the 49 crewmembers kidnapped globally occurred off Nigerian waters in seven separate incidents. Other crew kidnappings in 2017 have been reported 60 nautical miles off the coast of Nigeria.
Director of IMB, Pottengal Mukundan, said: “In general, all waters in and off Nigeria remain risky, despite intervention in some cases by the Nigerian Navy. We advise vessels to be vigilant.
“The number of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea could be even higher than our figures as many incidents continue to be unreported.”
According to the group, a total of 121 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported globally in the first nine months of 2017.
“In total, 92 vessels were boarded, 13 were fired upon, there were 11 attempted attacks and five vessels were hijacked in the first nine months of 2017,” it stated.
The report noted that, while piracy rates were down compared to the same period in 2016, there is continuing concern over attacks in the Gulf of Guinea and in South East Asia. The increase in attacks off the coast of Venezuela and other security incidents against vessels off Libya – including an attempted boarding in the last quarter highlights the need for vigilance in other areas.
While only three low-level incidents took place in Venezuela during the same period in 2016, the number this year racked up to 11. All vessels were successfully boarded by robbers armed with guns or knives and mostly took place at anchorage. Four crewmembers were taken hostage during these incidents, with two assaulted and one injured.
“No incidents were reported off the coast of Somalia in this quarter, though the successful attacks from earlier in the year suggest that pirates in the area retain the capacity to target merchant shipping at distances from the coastline,” the report said.
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