Despite efforts by the federal government to reduce the cases of piracy and banditry in Nigeria's territorial waters, the country still leads in pirates attack in the Gulf of Guinea in the first nine months of 2018, a report by the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has revealed.
IMB in its latest quarterly report said a total of 156 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported to its Piracy Reporting Centre in the first nine months of 2018 compared to 121 for the same period in 2017.
According to the IMB, "A total of 156 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) in the first nine months of 2018 compared to 121 for the same period in 2017.The 2018 figure is broken down as 107 vessels boarded, 32 attempted attacks, 13 vessels fired upon and four vessels hijacked -although no vessels were reported as hijacked in Q3 2018.This is first time since 1994when no vessel hijackings have been reported in two consecutive quarters.
"The number of crew held hostage (112) for the duration of the incident has increased in comparison to the same period in 2016 (110) and 2017 (80). The number of crew kidnappings has reduced from 49 in 2017 to 39 in 2018. It is noticeable that 37 of the 39-crew kidnapped for ransom globally, have occurred in the Gulf of Guinea region in seven separate incidents. Twenty-nine crew were kidnapped in four separate incidents off Nigeria -including 12 crew kidnapped from a bulk carrier underway 51nm SW of Bonny Island, Nigeria in September 2018."
It added: "Statistically, the Gulf of Guinea accounts for 57 of the 156 reported incidents. While most of these incidents have been reported in and around Nigeria (41), the Nigerian Navy has actively responded and dispatched patrol boats when incidents have been reported promptly. There has also been a noticeable increase in the number of vessels boarded at Takoradi anchorage, Ghana. No new incidents have been reported off the coast of Somalia in the third quarter. With the retreating of the SW monsoons this lull may change, and vessels are encouraged to continue to comply with all BMP5 recommendations."
The 2018 figures can be further broken down to 107 vessels boarded, 32 attempted attacks, 13 vessels fired upon and four vessels hijacked, although no vessels were reported as hijacked in the second or third quarter of 2018. This marks the first time since 1994 when no vessel hijackings have been reported in two consecutive quarters.
Despite this statistic, the number of crew members held hostage increased compared to the same period in 2017, from 80 incidents to 112 by the third quarter of 2018.
Commenting on the report, Director of IMB, Pottengal Mukundan said: "While the record low number of hijackings in the second and third quarters of 2018 is of course to be celebrated, incidents of maritime piracy and armed robbery remain common. ICC urges governments to leverage the timely data available from the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre to concentrate resources in these hotspots."
The IMB noted that 37 of the 39 crew kidnappings for ransom taking place around the world have occurred in the Gulf of Guinea region, in seven separate incidents.
The reports revealed that a total of 29 crew members were kidnapped in four separate incidents off Nigeria - including a 12-crew kidnapping from a bulk carrier off Bonny Island, Nigeria in September 2018.
"In other world regions, incidents of piracy and armed robbery are comparatively low. No new incidents were reported off the coast of Somalia in the third quarter of 2018, while two fishermen were reported kidnapped off Semporna, Malaysia in September 2018.
"Incidents other regions, including some Latin America countries, border on low-level opportunistic theft. Nevertheless, the IMB continues to encourage all masters and crew members to be aware of these risks and report all incidents to the 24-hour manned PRC," it stated.