The Nigerian Navy is nervous about the rise in piracy and its impact on the country’s reputation

The Nigerian Navy is brimming with reports of the rise in piracy in the region. Maritime intelligence group Dryad Global has denied claims by the Nigerian Navy that their coverage of security and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea reflects a hidden agenda.

Reports of piracy rates in the Gulf are “a deliberate ongoing effort to discourage maritime traffic and increase freight and insurance costs in the area,” said Suleman Dahun, commodore for the chief of naval staff, in a statement Feb. 26.

Dahun’s testimony quoted Dryad’s coverage of an incident with the MV Odianoses Schiff as an example of “alarmist” reporting. The Nigerian media has been told to beware of any “calculated attempt to tarnish the nation’s image” under an “unfavorable maritime agenda”.

The Navy’s statement was an “unusual, unprecedented move,” said Casper Goldman, an analyst at Dryad Global in London.

  • Dryad’s first report of the MV Odianoses was based on information received from a joint information exchange point of the Franco-British Navy that a security escort ship had been attacked.
  • When the unconfirmed report of an incident was found to be unfounded, Dryad updated his report to reflect this.
  • “They took the opportunity to attack Dryad,” Goldman says, adding that it is “simply wrong” to say that the marine information provider has underlying interests at stake.

Regional coordination

According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), 130 people were kidnapped in 22 incidents in the Gulf of Guinea in 2020. So far this year there have been three incidents involving 44 people abducted, an increase over the same period last year, Goldman says.

  • Larger groups of people are kidnappedpirate groups’ skills become more professional and they work further off the coast, he adds.
  • The attacks are also more violent, with 80% now involve the use of weapons.
  • Hostages are usually hidden in the Niger Delta The average ransom per capita is $ 50,000, he adds.

According to Goldman, Nigeria is the “regional leader” in the fight against piracy. The Deep blue Project“A step in the right direction” is the purchase of rapid intervention vessels, the development of new command and control centers, and the improvement of training and the exchange of information.

But much more needs to be done. Goldman argues that the root of the problem lies on land, in the form of social and economic stability exacerbated by Covid-19. Lack of jobs and low incomes make it imperative to invest in coastal development in order to offer alternatives to piracy.

Such investments will take years to take effect. Larger in the short term regional cooperation is needed, says Goldman. Anti-piracy laws are lacking in many West African countries and harmonization of legislation would help address the problem.

  • The region must meet the commitments made by the EU Lome Charter on maritime security, which was passed in 2016, says Goldman. “States must avoid working in isolation,” as it simply causes pirates to shift their attacks to other waters, he says.
  • The international community also plays a role. Later that year Denmark will deploy a frigate in the Gulf of Guinea to help fight piracy, which Goldman said could open the door to greater international engagement.

But even if Nigerian waters are effectively monitored, piracy will simply spill over to other waters if efforts are not coordinated, Goldman says. “Regional cooperation is key and the international navy could play a supporting role.”

Bottom line

Nigeria cannot fix piracy without the support of the entire Gulf of Guinea.

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