The Punch

Pirate kidnapping­s in Nigerian waters drop to two-year low

- Kariola Mustapha

Kidnapping­s by pirates in the gulf of guinea dropped in the second quarter of 2021 to the lowest in two years, but pirates continue to target all vessel types throughout the region, the internatio­nal Maritime Bureau has said.

The IMO said in its report for the second quarter of 2021 that the pirate incidents dropped to 32 per cent in Q2 from 43 per cent in Q1.

it said the reported piracy and armed robbery incidents were at their lowest level globally in 27 years.

According to the report, there were 68 reported incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships during this period.

The report said, “The number of kidnapping­s recorded in the gulf of guinea in the last quarter is the lowest since Q2 2019, but pirates continue to target all vessel types throughout the region.

“IMB warns that fishing vessels have been hijacked in the gulf of guinea and later used as mother ships to target other merchant vessels.”

IMB Director, Michael Howlett, said, “Whilst IMB welcomes reduced piracy and armed robbery activity in the gulf of guinea, the risk to seafarers still remains.

“Reporting all incidents to the regional authoritie­s and IMB PRC, seafarers can maintain pressure against pirates. Bringing together maritime response authoritie­s through initiative­s – like nigeria’s Deep Blue project and gulf of guinea Maritime Collaborat­ion Forum – will continue and strengthen knowledge sharing channels and reduce risk to seafarers in the region.”

According to the report, in early June, a bulk carrier was approached by a skiff with six pirates while transition­ing through the region at around 210nm off the coast of Lagos.

It said in the first six months of 2021, imb’s piracy Reporting Centre reported 61 vessels boarded, four attempted attacks, two vessels fired upon, and one vessel hijacked.

it said, “Despite the overall decline in reported incidents, violence against crews has continued with 50 crew kidnapped, three each threatened and taken hostage, two assaulted, one injured and one killed throughout the first half of 2021.”

in June, the IMO commended nigeria for playing a leading role in efforts to secure the gulf of guinea, saying it would continue to support the country and the region.

The Secretary-general, IMO, Kitack Lim, said the country had made important contributi­ons to the fight against piracy and armed robbery in the gulf of guinea maritime domain, foremost among them was the recent launch of the integrated national Security and Waterways protection infrastruc­ture, also called the Deep Blue project.

“i would like to extend my deepest appreciati­on to the nigerian government for its continued contributi­on towards the endeavours to ensure safe and secure maritime operation in the gulf of guinea,” Lim said in his message to nigeria.

He said such actions had helped the work of seafarers and improved shipping in the region, while keeping at bay illicit maritime activities.

The secretary-general praised nigeria’s determinat­ion to galvanise regional and internatio­nal energies to rid the country’s waters and the gulf of guinea of threats to shipping.

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