By Johnson Eyiangho
Pirate attacks in the coast of Nigeria, reduced significantly in the first half of 2017 following some measures adopted by the Federal Government, the Minister of Defence, Mansur Dan-Ali has said.
Dan-Ali disclosed this in Rome, Wednesday at the conclusion of a two-day meeting of representatives of Government of G7++ Friends of Gulf of Guinea and representatives of Gulf of Guinea States.
A copy of the minister’s speech was made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja by his spokesman, Col. Tukur Gusau.
He said only four successful attacks were recorded out of 16 of such attempted attacks during the period.
The minister stated that when compared to same period in 2016, there were more attacks as 36 successful attacks were recorded out of 55 attempted attacks.
“As we may be aware in recent years, the socio-economic agitations in the Niger Delta have elicited significant maritime security challenges such as attacks on shipping, kidnapping, crude oil theft, illegal bunkering and refining have remained challenging.
“Nevertheless, the combination of infrastructure development programmes, engagements with local communities, sustenance of the Amnesty Programme for repentant ex-militants and improved maritime policing activities have proved effective in stemming the tide of insecurity around the coast of Nigeria.
“This is a direct reflection of the activation of dedicated anti-piracy Operation TSARE TEKU off the coast of Niger Delta.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria has also initiated plans to establish modular refineries and other programmes to curb crude oil theft and to promote youth employment in the region,’’ the minister said.
Dan-Ali, however, expressed concern of Nigeria about IUUF – Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing activities by foreign flagged ships in the nation’s coastal area.
He said that Nigeria was also concerned about the persistent involvement of other nationals in the crude oil theft and piracy activities in the Niger Delta.
“In the course of Nigerian Navy’s anti-piracy operations, we have also seen a trend of preference for kidnap-for-ransom, with involvement of negotiators from outside the region,’’ he said.
The minister, therefore, called for more engaging cooperation and operational collaboration among Gulf of Guinea states and with the G7++ in information sharing on maritime criminal networks, individuals and vessels.
He assured that Nigeria remains committed to the objectives of the 2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) and recently adopted AU Charter on Maritime Security Safety and Development.
“In this regard, the process for legislating a Bill on Piracy has also been initiated.
“Furthermore, the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari recently developed a Harmonised Standard Operating Procedure on Arrest, Detention and Prosecution (HSOP-ADP) of Vessels and Persons involved in maritime criminalities.
“The HSOP also made provision for developing and sharing common database on maritime criminality.
“As the INTERPOL recently indicated interest in supporting this initiative, Nigeria looks forward to more engaging discussions and capacity building programmes,’’ Dan-Ali said.