- Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea has its roots in Nigeria’s Niger Delta where oil wealth has failed to reach local populations and deep poverty has stoked militancy and armed unrest.
- Gangs speed out from swamps to raid passing vessels, snatch crews and spirit them back to Nigeria’s shores.
- Nigeria has spent nearly $200 million on its naval Deep Blue project, investing in surveillance equipment, vessels and aircraft to better secure its waters.
A recent news article published in the Yahoo written by Patrick Markey reveals that there has been serious calls for action after Gulf of Guinea piracy surged.
A subtle example of Mozart and piracy attack
The Mozart was 200 miles off Nigeria’s coast when the pirates made their assault, their speed boat cutting through the Gulf of Guinea’s waters to outpace the container ship.
Armed men scrambled onboard as the Turkish crew locked down in the ship’s “citadel” secure area.
For six hours, pirates used the ship’s power tools to rip open the security door. They shot one sailor dead and kidnapped 15 more, ferrying them to Nigeria’s coast for ransom.
The January attack described by crew and shipping sources was one in recent cluster of raids far off Nigeria’s coast where commercial vessels now face a more complex threat.
Pirates have long been a risk in Gulf of Guinea, a major shipping route stretching from Senegal to Angola, with Nigerian gangs carrying out most attacks.
Steps to curb piracy
Nigeria’s maritime agency NIMASA chief Bashir Jamoh expects the system to be operating next month and wants more regional cooperation.
“Our solution to the insecurity in the Gulf of Guinea must be homegrown by cooperating among ourselves,” Jomah told a virtual summit.
Last year, Nigeria also carried out its first ever trial under a new piracy law.
Newly appointed naval chief of staff Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo has called on commanders to clear pirate bases, while demanding a crackdown on corrupt navy officials working with gangs.
EU nations tackle piracy
EU nations like the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Portugal and France often have naval vessels operating in the Gulf — two or three ships are present a day.
In November, the Danish vessel TORM Alexandra was boarded in an early morning raid while nearly 200 miles off Nigeria.
A nearby Italian frigate managed to dispatch its helicopter to fly over, sending the pirates fleeing in their boat.
But the Gulf of Guinea may be less of a priority for a costly long-term foreign naval presence as in the Horn of Africa or the key oil route of the Straits of Hormuz.
Did you subscribe to our daily newsletter?
It’s free! Click here to subscribe!