By Steve Agbota
Following the efforts put in place to combat maritime crimes and sea robbery on Nigerian waters, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has exited Nigeria from world piracy record list.
The Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Bashir Jamoh disclosed this during the the 2nd Nigerian Admiralty Law Colloquium, said: “I am also happy to announce that on 5th of March (2022), Nigeria exited the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) piracy record list, leaving Sao Tome and Principe and Benin Republic leading the most dangerous waters to trade in the world.
“On maritime security, in 2019 The Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offenses (SPOMO) Act came into law. This Act provides the legal teeth for the war against piracy in the Nigerian maritime environment,” he said.
According to him, the further zeal to keep the nation’s maritime space secured, promote socio-economic development and leaving no stone unturned, led to the launch of the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure popularly referred to as the Deep Blue Project.
“I am delighted to inform you that these interventions by the Agency are being recognised. Even the respected International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has acknowledged our efforts and commended Nigeria’s progress in her quest for security in the Gulf of Guinea in its reports.
Also speaking at the event, Director General of NIALS, Professor Muhammad Tawfiq Ladan said that piracy issues have gone down tremendously in the Gulf of Guinea in 2021.
“My lords. distinguished participants. | am happy to report that two years after the coming into force of the SPOMO Act. the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, sentenced ten pirates to 12 years imprisonment each with a N250,000 for hijack of a merchant vessel in May 2020.
“Similarity, in July 2021, it was reported that Togolese High Court convicted nine (9) pirates, following an attack on a tanker in May 2019 and sentenced one of the pirates to 15 years in prison while the rest were each sentenced to 12 years in prison
“Distinguished participants, compared to the year 2020, 2021 was a much better year for both Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea as well as the global maritime community in dealing with piracy and other maritime crimes.
“According to the International Maritime Bureau (IBM) report, the number of pirate attacks and kidnapped seafarers in the Gulf of Guinea region has dropped significantly. In Q4 of 2020, about 23 attacks were made against merchant ships trading in the region while 50 seafarers were kidnapped. In Q4 of 2021, the numbers dropped to seven attacks and 20 kidnappings.
“My Lords, the region recorded 34 incidents of maritime piracy and armed robbery at sea in 2021, a sharp drop from 81 in 2020. While kidnappings at sea dropped by 55 per cent in 2021, the region continues to account for all kidnapping incidents globally , with 57 crew taken in seven separate incidents,” he stated.