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Two reasons emerge on why piracy may increase soon on Nigerian waters

Strong indications have emerged suggesting that two major strategic plans by the federal government to tame the intractable cases of piracy on Nigerian territorial waters are in serious danger, thus fueling the fear of more attacks.

The first is the inability of the government to fulfill its promise of floating some high-tech machinery meant to combat maritime crime in the nation’s troubled waters.

Under the initial target, the facilities were expected to have arrived Nigeria in August, but three months after, the project now appears abandoned due to paucity of funds.

Business Hilights recalls that Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi had at an industry forum in Lagos, on May 3rd, had assured, “In the next three months, you will see them operating; and by the time we finish, you will see that the change is coming. Change is not talked about, it is felt, and so you should give us time to fix it.”

The minister further disclosed that even President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the sum of $186million (about N56.9billion) to procure the machineries to fully combat maritime crimes.

Additional details show that the fund is meant to acquire three helicopters, three aircrafts, three big battle-ready ships, 12 vessels, and 20 amphibious cars to combat the menace of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

The second solution to sea piracy which was also revealed by the same minister few weeks ago which borders on  hiring an Israeli security firm at about $170m to man the waters is currently being opposed by the lawmakers and civil societies.

Their argument on point of law is that naturally, the 1999 Constitution provides that the Nigerian navy shall man the territorial waters of Nigeria and not any foreign entity or another body.

Observers say the hanging of both plans of the federal government may have given a dangerous signal to sea criminals, thus raising fears and security expenses of foreign ships entering Nigeria.

A recent report said foreign shipping companies have been spending an average of $14bn yearly on private escort security to and from Nigeria, and the scenario has forced the companies to raise new charges on Nigerian exporters and importers.

Industry analysts say Nigeria’s marine territory has continued to report many attacks and kidnappings.

The latest being the kidnap of six crew members, including the captain, from a Liberian-flagged containership ‘Demeter’ offshore Bonny.

Besides, another new report by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), International Maritime Bureau (IMB), noted that “Nigeria remains risky, as there were 20 reports received against all vessel types for Nigeria, 16 of which occurred off the coast of Brass, Bonny, and Bayelsa.

IMB boss, Pottengal Mukundan, in a statement averred that “In general, all waters in and off Nigeria remain risky, despite intervention in some cases by the Nigerian Navy. We advise vessels to be vigilant.

He added that “The number of attacks in the Gulf of Guinea could be even higher than our figures, as many incidents continue to be unreported within the period under review.