The issue of piracy and maritime crimes within the Gulf of Guinea appear not to have obtained the eye it deserves. The area is the hotbed of those crimes, and nowhere else on the earth do pirates strike extra typically than within the Gulf of Guinea.
Final week, one thing with vital however far-reaching diplomatic implications occurred in safety circles, significantly within the maritime safety sphere. Denmark, a tiny European nation of 5.3 million individuals, lower than the scale and inhabitants of Rivers State in Nigeria, resolved to ship a frigate to patrol and police the waters of the Gulf of Guinea. The choice adopted the decision for a extra assertive response to the embarrassing excessive stage of sea crimes, piracy and kidnapping for ransom happening within the area, for which worldwide notion places Nigeria on the centre.
In line with the Danish Minister of Defence, Trine Bramsen, “That is initiated as a result of the maritime safety is challenged. Pirates are behind a number of extreme kidnappings within the space. It threatens the safety of Danish and international crews. In such a state of affairs we can not and shall not simply watch. We should get up for the best to free navigation. The Danish Navy has beforehand proved to be sturdy and essential within the combating of the pirates. Nonetheless, if we’re actually going to get safety beneath management within the Gulf of Guinea, a world navy presence is critical. From the Danish facet, we attempt to have extra international locations taking…duty.”
The issue of piracy and maritime crimes within the Gulf of Guinea appear not to have obtained the eye it deserves. The area is the hotbed of those crimes, and nowhere else on the earth do pirates strike extra typically than within the Gulf of Guinea. In line with the Worldwide Maritime Bureau, in its 2020 annual report, 95 per cent of the 135 seafarers seized worldwide have been kidnapped within the Gulf in 22 separate incidents. Pirates took the hostages to the creeks within the Niger Delta, the place stakeholders negotiate ransoms.
The Gulf of Guinea is proving extra harmful than even the Somali coast. Final January, a daily script performed out when the container ship, MV Mozart, was greater than 200 nautical miles off the Nigerian coast and pirates all of the sudden struck. In line with information studies, there have been dramatic scenes on board the vessel, with the ship’s crew cowered in a protected room, fearing for his or her lives, and the pirates quietly set concerning the work of attending to them.
The criminals spent six hours earlier than they have been capable of open the Citadel door after which snuff life out of 1 crew member, whereas kidnapping 15 others. Allegedly, the pirates obtained a ransom earlier than they launched the seafarers they kidnapped.
The Gulf of Guinea is taken into account a strategic location as a result of its pure assets, so it stays a essential maritime route for worldwide shipping from Europe to America, to West, Central and Southern Africa. The area’s significance in world vitality provide is obvious in its proximity to Europe and North America, as a channel for the transportation of crude oil and fuel from the realm. It’s estimated that no less than 20 per cent of Europe’s oil and fuel comes from the Gulf of Guinea.
It’s comprehensible why the Danes could be serious about defending the Gulf of Guinea’s harmful waters. Copenhagen-based Maersk, the world’s largest shipping firm, is answerable for greater than a 3rd of maritime commerce within the Gulf of Guinea. Concurrently, as many as 40 Danish-operated vessels sail by means of the realm every day.
Maritime transportation itself is critical for the soundness of Nigeria’s economic system. And the nation as a coastal and import-oriented state relies upon totally on worldwide shipping for income from the mining of its pure assets, primarily crude oil. But, the actions of maritime criminals on the nation’s coastal waters have resulted in financial sabotage that impacts the nation’s picture on the worldwide scene. Nigeria loses 150,000 barrels of crude oil day by day to grease thieves, which quantities to about N2.5 billion every day, and over N900 billion yearly.
It’s comprehensible why the Danes could be serious about defending the Gulf of Guinea’s harmful waters. Copenhagen-based Maersk, the world’s largest shipping firm, is answerable for greater than a 3rd of maritime commerce within the Gulf of Guinea. Concurrently, as many as 40 Danish-operated vessels sail by means of the realm every day. Nonetheless, it’s disturbing that we’d like foreigners earlier than we are able to safe our waters. The attendant safety implications are dire, and the ensuing perpetuation of our nation’s notion as largely dysfunctional does us no good.
This plan of motion has far-reaching implications for Nigeria’s standing, stature, and sovereignty, and I’ll share a number of right here. First, the nation faces extreme safety challenges on all fronts which have questioned our capability to handle safety in our nation. The safety problem manifests as Boko Haram, farmer-herdsmen clashes, kidnapping for ransom, and ethnic pressure. Some worldwide establishments have even derided us as being on the “early stage of a failed state”. Added to those safety challenges is a spike in maritime insecurity. This can be a problem that may diminish the boldness of the worldwide neighborhood in our nation.
Second, Denmark’s motion, supported by the worldwide shipping neighborhood, allegedly as a result of worldwide ship visitors is threatened by legal actions, is technically branding Nigeria and sister international locations across the Gulf of Guinea as having didn’t police their territorial waters, which confers on them their true sovereignty. By worldwide regulation, it’s when a rustic or a area fails or is failing in its main duty of securing its waters that worldwide companions can provide assist. How can international locations within the gulf of Guinea area, particularly Nigeria, be candidates for the worldwide neighborhood’s sympathy? There was the lame argument that Denmark’s motion is outdoors the territorial waters of any explicit nation within the area. It’s evident that world naval motion at sea was distinguished and profitable in countering Somalian piracy within the Gulf of Eden, as a result of the nation was adjudged a failed state.
Third, any worldwide naval intervention is an insult to our naval powers. Is it that our safety businesses lack the capabilities and capability to match and remove amateurish pirates and different criminals terrorising our waters?
Fourth, with out safety at sea, Nigeria would discover it tougher to realize financial prosperity. Nigeria’s piracy downside is linked to the nation’s dysfunctional oil trade and the violent actions within the Niger Delta and different components of the nation. Corruption, pervasive poverty, and weak regulation enforcement drive piracy and insecurity. Some authorities officers – maritime professionals, naval and paramilitary regulation enforcement personnel – allegedly collude with pirates and criminals usually, by offering them with insider info that aids their nefarious actions, for which they get shares of the ransoms collected in return.
Fifth, the popularity of Nigeria among the many comity of countries is at stake. When small international locations like Denmark present safety within the Gulf of Guinea, what does that say about Nigeria’s picture as Africa’s financial big? Nigeria constructed a robust popularity as a regional energy inside West Africa within the latest previous. However with the present spate of insecurity and piracy, this popularity is regularly fading away. It’s excessive time Nigeria labored collaboratively with sister nations across the Gulf of Guinea to offer ample safety for the maritime sector. This may be carried out when the ancillary elements resulting in maritime insecurity are resolved. A wonderful strategic safety plan ought to be developed, applied, and evaluated to offer ample safety within the area and throughout the nation.
The navy ought to be supplied with higher tools to struggle pirates and armed robbers at sea. The Nigerian Navy has proven its navy prowess in preventing piracy inside the Niger Delta and the Gulf of Guinea. Nonetheless, preventing crime at sea requires teamwork that ought to contain different stakeholders…
I need to level out that I’m not in opposition to international international locations coming to assist states of the area to present safety within the Gulf of Guinea or elsewhere. Nonetheless, I really feel that Nigeria ought to play the lead position in a coalition of naval safety equipment from the worldwide neighborhood that is offering safety within the Gulf of Guinea. Particular person international state actors intervening unilaterally, though with good intentions, has world safety and bilateral relations penalties. If Nigeria and different Gulf of Guninea states hold permitting international international locations to police their waters now, couldn’t this result in the surrendering of their whole sovereignties to them in due time?
A pertinent query arises at this level: Has Nigeria failed in its main duty of sustaining regulation and order in its territorial waters? I don’t assume so, save that we now have handled the state of affairs with the identical lackadaisical angle informing how we deal with most nationwide points. I’m conscious that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), working with the Navy and different sister safety businesses, put in place a brand new maritime safety structure code-named the Deep Blue Challenge. That is an end-to-end answer masking intelligence; response capability, together with property acquisition; coaching and interagency/ inter nation collaboration, however the execution to date appears to have gone awry. The programme has changed into an instrument of excessive wired intrigues in political circles. Not even the full dedication of the Minister of Transportation and incumbent Director-Normal of NIMASA has helped issues.
The Navy, on her half, has launched into a number of particular operations previously two years that abnormal observers might have misplaced rely of such particular and distinctive operations, from Train Shark Shiver, Train Prosperity to Train Nemo.
To deal with piracy, we have to handle the issue of pervasive poverty, unemployment, inequality, and corruption within the nation, particularly within the Niger Delta area. If the youths do not need entry to official technique of incomes earnings, some will seemingly take to crime and criminality. Grievances amongst marginalised coastal communities within the Niger Delta ought to be investigated so that almost all restive youths within the area can pursue official technique of livelihood and escape the cycle of deprivation that exposes them to crime. Provision of social facilities and job creation could be important in tackling piracy.
The navy ought to be supplied with higher tools to struggle pirates and armed robbers at sea. The Nigerian Navy has proven its navy prowess in preventing piracy inside the Niger Delta and the Gulf of Guinea. Nonetheless, preventing crime at sea requires teamwork that ought to contain different stakeholders and safety businesses in a coordinated method.
We additionally have to implement our present legal guidelines to deliver arrested pirates to guide and deter would-be pirates. The SPOMO Act 2019, enacted by the federal government with NIMASA as main facilitator, ought to constantly be enforced each time pirates are arrested. The scourge of piracy and armed theft at sea can’t be tackled by the Federal Authorities alone. States and corporations working within the area ought to be part of arms with the lead state establishments in tackling piracy and different maritime crimes which have constituted a darkish cloud over our land.
In conclusion, we now have sufficient issues at hand, and we should always shortly arrest this deteriorating darkness at sea, so we are able to focus all our efforts in stamping out insecurity on land.
Dakuku Peterside is a coverage and management professional.
Help PREMIUM TIMES’ journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism prices some huge cash. But solely good journalism can guarantee the opportunity of a very good society, an accountable democracy, and a clear authorities.
For continued free entry to the very best investigative journalism within the nation we ask you to think about making a modest assist to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you’re serving to to maintain a journalism of relevance and guaranteeing it stays free and out there to all.
TEXT AD: To promote right here . Call Willie +2347088095401…