— Nigeria needs to review its maritime security regulations and enlist the support of private companies to handle rampant piracy in its waters, according to a report published on Wednesday.
The seas off the West African country’s coast are the most dangerous in the world for seafarers, accounting to all kidnappings by pirates in recent years. Nigeria’s government doesn’t permit private armed guards on ships, leaving them reliant on escorts by licensed boats manned by naval personnel. Special Force of the Nigerian navy tries to arrest pirates in F735 Germinal French Frigate in a stage managed operations during the five-day joint military exercise between Nigeria and French navy codenamed Grand African NEMO (Navy Exercise Maritime Operations) in Nigerian waters on November 1, 2019.
“Seafarers’ lives are at risk from ever-increasing violent attacks and Nigerian pirates are operating with increased impunity,” according to the information by maritime intelligence company Dryad Global. “Nigeria must strike a balance between restrictions for the sake of national security and creating space for third-party security providers to complement the Nigerian navy’s security activities in support of commercial operations.”
While London-based Dryad credited Nigeria’s government for being the region’s front-runner in combating piracy, and said its planned deployment of $195 million’s worth of aircraft, boats and vehicles should bolster its response, it warned that it couldn’t address the scourge on its own.
Stliusong also gathered that the Nigerian authorities are opposed to allowing ships into the nation’s waters to carry weapons even if they are in transit, claiming recent investment in equipment and training will phase out the need for private security providers.
Nigeria’s waters are in the center point of the Gulf of Guinea, a vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean stretching from Senegal to Angola that is the source of ever-greater anxiety for shipowners, operators and their crews. Last year, the region accounted for 95% of the 135 seafarers seized worldwide in 22 separate incidents, according to the International Maritime Bureau.
Main while Dryad also criticized Nigeria’s implementation of a law, the first of its kind in the Gulf of Guinea, that was adopted in 2019 to punish pirates with heavy sentences. The people prosecuted so far under the legislation were from a non governmental company company involved in handing over a ransom payment, the report said.
The “government appears more focused on holding the commercial balance of power over third-party security providers than combating piracy,” it said.