Gulf of Guinea satellite image (NASA)

Counterpiracy Efforts Stepped up As Another Major Kidnapping Occurs in Gulf of Guinea

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has declared its intention to work in partnership with the Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) in the fight against piracy and other crimes in the country’s maritime domain. 

Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, underscored the importance of collaboration among relevant agencies and communities in the quest for maritime security, saying, “We should be working together in partnership to help us appreciate and evaluate the challenges from our various perspectives and collectively come up with solutions that would work for all of us, and the country at large.  

“Security problems more often than not have a local content. So, as the country’s maritime regulatory agency, we want to partner the amnesty program, which interfaces with the littoral communities, to nip the security challenges in the bud, and stand our nation in good stead for the optimisation of our huge maritime resources.” 

Jamoh has prioritized advocacy for inter-agency cooperation in the fight against maritime insecurity since his appointment last year. A Maritime Intelligence Unit was recently established by NIMASA to help in the identification of early warning signs in order to prevent security breaches in the littoral areas. 

NIMASA is also planning to introduce educational, entrepreneurship training, and skills acquisition programs in the areas of fishing, clearing and forwarding, and legal bunkering, for people in the coastal communities as a way of empowering them and discouraging criminal tendencies. 

These moves come as the Gulf of Guinea has been subjected to another fatal piracy attack, this time off Sao Tome. Security consultancy Praesidium International reports that the Turkish-operated container ship Mozart was transiting about 95 nm to the northwest of Sao Tome on January 23 when she was boarded by four armed assailants. The crew retreated to the vessel’s citadel, but the pirates managed to breach it. Operator Boden Maritime issued a statement confirming that 15 crewmembers were kidnapped and one was killed. 

It appears to have been a well-coordinated attack with crewmembers reporting that explosives were used. The assailants escaped with the hostages, leaving three crewmembers in control of the vessel.

Earlier this month, the International Maritime Bureau warned of an increase of attacks in the region, particularly further away from shorelines, demonstrating the increasing capabilities of pirates in the Gulf of Guinea.

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Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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