Nigeria’s efforts in the Gulf of Guinea has seen improved numbers compared to other chaos and violent zones in the country.
This is related to the fact that Nigeria’s maritime industry is also culturally and geographically tied to its oil and gas export zones, and with further implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreements (AfCFTA), Nigeria needs to secure its lucrative maritime routes to boost trade with Africa and the world.
As of October 2021, the International Maritime Bureau (IBM) reported that global piracy cases dropped to the lowest level since 1994. The Gulf of Guinea region recorded 28 incidents of piracy and armed robbery in the first nine months of 2021, in comparison to 46 for the same period in 2020, with the Nigerian area recording only 4 related cases for the same period.
Confidence MacHarry, Security Analyst at SBM Intel tells Nairametrics that “The international coalition against piracy in the Gulf of Guinea will most likely declare victory as the gulf becomes cool, and piracy would most likely increase in the inland waterways, which means the Nigerian Navy being the agency in charge would struggle to put out the fire”
Despite, the lower numbers recorded this year; the International Maritime Bureau warned that seafarers must remain vigilant as violence against crew remains high in many areas of the world.
The IMB said, “The overall reduction of piracy and armed robbery incidents in the region is a testament to enhanced maritime security and response coordination measures adopted by regional and national authorities,
“Despite these gains, IMB warns that the risk to crew remains high in the region and that such efforts must therefore be sustained” They urged that Coastal States must redouble their coordination and security measures to ensure that piracy and armed robbery incidents continue to decline.”
However, newer pockets of violence have already been recorded inland, in coastal areas as Nairametrics reported in November that Gunmen suspected to be pirates killed 4 oil workers who were involved in pipeline maintenance owned by the Nigerian Agip Oil Company, in Okoroma and Ogbokiri-Akassa communities of Nembe and Brass Local Government areas of Bayelsa.
This indicates with the success being recorded in the seas, gunmen may be moving inland and adopting the “kidnap for ransom” techniques being employed by other violent actors operating in Nigeria. Compared to 2020, 2021 was a much better year for Nigeria in dealing with the piracy issues, due to consistent vigilance and collaboration with the public and private sector in the maritime sector.
However, as others have warned, the vigilance needs to be maintained, and also a careful eye needs to be put on disgruntled pirates who will increase kidnap attempts on onshore oil workers in coastal towns.