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Piracy drops in Gulf of Guinea, Nigerian waters, says IMB

By Odita Sunday and Oludare Richards, Abuja
19 October 2021   |   3:01 am
Incidents of piracy in the first nine months of 2021 are the lowest reported in 17 years.

[FILES] Gulf of Guinea (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

$260,000 anti-piracy project begins as Japan lauds move

Incidents of piracy in the first nine months of 2021 are the lowest reported in 17 years.

The latest report from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) released this week shows 85 vessels boarded, nine attempted attacks, two vessels shot at and one hijacked.

The bureau, while welcoming the decrease, repeated its warning to seafarers to remain vigilant, particularly in view of high levels of violence against crew in many areas.

The Gulf of Guinea region recorded 28 incidents of piracy and armed robbery in the first nine months of 2021, compared to 46 at the same period in 2020.

The report notes: “Nigeria reported only four, compared to 17 in 2020 and 41 in 2018. Crew kidnappings in the region dropped with a single crew member kidnapped in quarter three of 2021, compared to 31 in five separate incidents during the same quarter in the preceding year.

“All 2021 quarter three incidents were against vessels at port anchorages and the average successful kidnapping location was 100 nautical miles from land.

“The overall reduction of piracy and armed robbery incidents in the region bears testament to enhanced maritime security and response coordination measures adopted by regional and national authorities.”

The IMB statement makes no mention of piracy incidents, kidnappings and violence against crew or hijackings on the east coast of the continent, off Somalia, including the Horn of Africa.

Going further east, IMB notes 20 armed robbery incidents in the Singapore Straits, the highest since last year and four up on the 2019 number. Attacks are low level and opportunistic in nature, with IMB warning that perpetrators pose a direct threat to seafarers and vessels underway.

In four incidents, the crew were threatened, assaulted or injured. There was also a “noticeable reduction” in incidents reported from Indonesian waters.

The six reported in the first nine months of this year is the lowest in Indonesian water since 1993.
MEANWHILE, the first course on anti-piracy organised by the Martin Luther Agwai International Leadership and Peacekeeping Centre (MLAILPKC), Kaduna, started yesterday as the $260,000 project advanced its objective of tackling the menace in the Gulf of Guinea.

About 90 per cent of yearly kidnappings worldwide occur in the region, with pirates becoming more sophisticated.

Team Lead (Governance, Peace and Security), Mr. Matthew Alao, at the opening ceremony of the two-week course, said the activities of pirates pose serious threats to trade and businesses along the corridor, also retarding the economies of countries, particularly Nigeria.

He said the gloomy outlook calls for concerted actions by multi-lateral and development partners, as well as Gulf of Guinea countries.

Ambassador of Japan to Nigeria, Mr Matsunaga Kazuyoshi, said the project is one of Japan’s contributions towards capacity building. He expressed hope that the training will improve safety in the Gulf of Guinea through the knowledge the 30 participants of the course will acquire.

He added that research on piracy in the region, released in August as a component of the project, revealed that the cause of piracy is economic and employment difficulties.