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How Nigeria degraded piracy in Gulf of Guinea

Bashir Jamoh, DG, NIMASA
 William Ukpe 

Following frequent attacks on vessels and kidnapping of seafarers, the Gulf of Guinea was in 2021 described as the world’s piracy hotspot.

In its quarterly report on maritime piracy, The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) declared that the Gulf of Guinea remains dangerous for seafarers, accounting for nearly half of all reported piracy incidents in the first quarter.

Timeline of recent attacks on seafarers by pirates

April 19, 2020: The Portuguese-flagged cargo ship Tommi Ritscher was attacked by pirates off the coast of Cotonou, Benin. The Bulgarian captain and seven other sailors were kidnapped. The captain was freed on May 25.
December 2020: Danish Shipping Company, Maersk was attacked off the West African coast by ‘criminals’ while travelling from Tema in Ghana to Kribi in Cameroon.
January 2021: Maersk, the world’s largest shipping company, called for military intervention in the piracy problem in the Gulf of Guinea, which had made the gulf the new global headquarters for piracy
January 2021:  According to the International Maritime Bureau in its 2020 Annual Piracy report, West Africa’s Gulf of Guinea recorded an unprecedented increase in piracy attacks in 2020.
The IMB reported that 135 crew members were kidnapped from their vessels in 2020, with the Gulf of Guinea accounting for over 95% kidnapped. A record of 130 crew members were kidnapped in 22 separate incidents.
January 23, 2021: The Liberia-flagged container ship V/S Mozart was attacked by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea. There were 19 crewmembers in the vessel, 1 killed, 15 kidnapped. The ship arrived at Port-Gentil at Gabon at 11:00 TRT with 3 remaining crew members.
Also in January 2021, a Turkish ship was attacked off Nigeria’s Gulf of Guinea coast, killing an Azerbaijani citizen, and kidnapping 15 sailors. The Liberian flagged  ship was on its way to Cape Town from Lagos, attacked 160 kilometres off Sao Tome.
November 25, 2021: The Royal Danish Navy frigate HDMS Esbern Snare intercepted a skiff that was heading towards several merchant ships. The pirates opened fire on an RHIB carrying members of the Frogman Corps, who returned fire, killing four pirates. None of the Danes was injured, but their RHIB was hit. Four surviving pirates were detained and taken aboard HDMS Esbern Snare. The incident took place 25–30 nautical miles (46–56 km; 29–35 mi) south of the territorial boundary of Nigeria.
Declining incidents of piracy in the region
Major International shipping companies announced they were drafting a policy towards dealing with piracy and maritime risks in the world’s most dangerous ocean trade routes including the Gulf of Guinea. BIMCO, one of the world’s largest associations of shipping companies, stated that the Gulf of Guinea is the biggest piracy headache vessels face.

But according to a report released in July 2021, piracy in the Gulf of Guinea fell to its lowest since Q2 2019, in the last quarter. IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC) reported the region led globally with 32% of all reported incidents and accounted for all 50 kidnapped crew and the single crew fatality recorded during the first half of 2021.

In October 2021, the International Maritime Bureau (IBM) reported that global piracy cases dropped to the lowest level since 1994. Gulf of Guinea region recorded 28 incidents of piracy and armed robbery in the first nine months of 2021, in comparison to 46 for the same period in 2020, with the Nigerian area recording only 4 related cases for the same period.

Efforts made by the Nigerian government and stakeholders

The reduction in violent activities on Nigeria’s coast was a collaborative effort, spearheaded by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Navy’s Deep Blue Project which saw the injection of funds to buy gear needed to fight piracy and also a collaboration with the U.S and Danish Navy.

In July 2021, a Federal High Court in Lagos convicted 10 men under a new law designed to combat the rising piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. The suspects were handed 12-year prison sentences after they were captured in May 2020 during a forceful boarding of a Chinese fishing vessel off the Ivorian coastline and kidnapping the crew member.

NIMASA’s Chief, Dr Bashir Jamoh attributed the positive development to the bringing together of maritime response authorities through initiatives like Nigeria’s Deep Blue Project and Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum which will continue to strengthen knowledge sharing channels and reduce risk to seafarers in the region.

NIMASA also introduced new measures to check security threats in the Nigerian maritime industry, as ship captains operating in Nigeria are now required to submit the Security-Related Pre-Arrival Information (SRPA) forms to the agency not later than 48 hours before the ship’s arrival at any Nigerian port. All ships are  also expected to maintain 24 hours vigilance and surveillance to detect strange movements, including small boats and skiffs that may not be captured by the radar.

Also, in August, US Navy ship, USS Hershel “Woody” Williams, arrived in Lagos to enable Nigeria in the fight against piracy. US Consul General, Claire Pierangelo said that the ship would be permanently assigned to Africa as a sign of the U.S government’s mission to fight piracy in the Gulf.

Nigeria’s efforts alongside working with its global allies greatly reduced piracy in the region as sea piracy activities at Nigeria’s Gulf of Guinea waters fell by as much as 80% in 2021, one of Nigeria’s bright spots in the fight against insecurity.

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Freight Monitor

President Buhari to commission multi-billion naira Dala Inland dry port Monday –Ahmad Rabiu

The Eyewitness reporter
All is set for the commissioning of the Dala International inland dry port on Monday 31st January 2023 by President Muhammad Buhari at Zawachiki in Kumbotso local government area of Kano state.
The Managing Director of the international inland dry port Ahmad Rabiu, stated this while addressing newsmen on the preparation for the inauguration of the port at its headquarters in Kano.
Ahmad Rabiu, who was joined by the chairman of the inland dry port, Alhaji Abubakar Sahabu Bawuro, said its the first international inland dry port where cargoes will go anywhere in the world from Kano state without follow up to any sea ports across Nigeria.
Ahmad Rabiu told newsmen that the federal government under President Muhammad Buhari has given all the support required for the take-up, noting that they have met the requirement on infrastructure and other critical amenities.
The MD said the stacking area has the capacity of containing 20 thousand units of containers before moving anywhere at any time, noting that the area covers six hectares of land and the management is willing to add more.
According to Ahmad Rabiu, all the requirements needed for clearance by businessmen, and customs duty will be done right from Kano without follow-up to any seaport in Nigeria.
On his part, the chairman of Dala Inland Dry Port, Alhaji Abubakar Sahabu Bawuro said the management of the port is prepared technically, and physically with interested partners and is going to boost businesses in Kano, Nigeria and Africa in general and urged members of the press to partner with the management in ensuring efficiency, emphasizing that the place is not a monument but a business venture.
The chairman said Dala Inland Dry Port is now a solution to the problems brought about by the seaports and they will introduce cargo tracking and door-to-door delivery of goods and services.
He said the success of the inland dry port is a joint venture between the state government, the business community, regulatory agencies and the Federal Government of Nigeria and to make business in Kano and its neighborhood more competitive.
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Freight Monitor

CRFFN rejects re-appointment bid of ousted Sam Nwakohu

Ousted CRFFN Registrar, Nwakohu
— appoints Uromta as Acting Registrar
—-shops for substantive Registrar.
The Eyewitness reporter
The Council for the Registration of Freight forwarding Practice in Nigeria (CRFFN) has thrown out the re-election bid of the outgoing Registrar of the Council, Sam Nwakohu.
In an emergency meeting of the council Thursday at its Abuja liaison office, the Council appointed Mrs. Chinyere Uromta, the Director of Regulations and Enforcement, as an acting Registrar pending the time a substantive registrar will be appointed.
The decision of the council to reject the reelection bid of the ousted Registrar was based on the recommendations of its ad hoc committee to look into the request of Nwakohu for a second term tenure.
The outgoing registrar, last year, at the December meeting of the council, submitted a letter, requesting to be considered for a second term shot at the lucrative position.
Consequently, the Chairman of the Council, Alhaji Abubakar Tsanni set up an ad-hoc committee, headed by Efeanyi Isikaku, to look into the request of Nwakohu and submit its report in two weeks.
“Following the completion of its assignment and submission of its report, the council, therefore, convened today (Thursday)in Abuja to deliberate on the next line of action to be taken in respect of the committee’s recommendations.
” The AdHoc committee made important recommendations with reference to the provisions of Public Service Rules as well as the council’s Act.
“The committee however, recommended that in order to avoid a vacuum after the expiration of the Registrar’s tenure, the council shall start making arrangements for a handover of the Registrar’s office to the most senior management staff of the council.
“Similarly, the committee also recommended that the Appointment Promotion and Discipline committee of the council be directed to start making preparations for reappointment or appointment of substantive Registrar”  Muftahu Ya’u, the chairman Committee on Media and Publicity of the governing council,  declared in a statement he sent to our reporter.
 “Finally, the council’s chairman soon after the adoption, approval, and ratification of the committee’s recommendations by members of the council directed the followings:
that arrangement for the Registrar’s handover to Mrs. Chinyere Uromta  Director, Regulations and Enforcement on 31st of January 2023.
“That committee on Appointment Promotion and Discipline go ahead to start preparations for reappointment/appointment of a new Registrar” the head of media and publicity of the council concluded.
It could be recalled that soon after Nwakohu made his ambition known to succeed himself as the Registrar of the council, he went on a lobbying spree, trying to woo the council members to buy into his ambition.
But sources close to the council whispered to our reporter that the second term bid of Nwakohu was dead on arrival due to lots of baggage he carries.
“There was no way he could have succeeded in his obnoxious bid to succeed himself.
Firstly, it was a general consensus among the freight forwarding confraternity that Nwakohu failed woefully as the registrar.
“He is incompetent, arrogant and someone not ready to learn,” a highly placed source said.
“Also, several allegations of financial sleaze against him have not been cleared.
“Similarly, the council members were not happy at the way Nwakohu handled the purchase of the CRFFN Abuja liaison office which cost they felt was inflated.
“All these and other uncharitable behavior of the outgoing registrar are enough reasons not to reappoint him as the Council registrar” the source claimed.
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Transportation ministry inaugurates project committee for Ondo, Benin seaports


The Eyewitness reporter
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transportation, Dr Magdalene Ajani, has inaugurated
a Project Steering Committee for the proposed Ondo Deep & Benin Seaports.
Dr. Magdalene Ajani, while inaugurating the Committee on behalf of the Nigerian government at the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja Wednesday,  stated that the Committee is saddled with providing guidance and direction on the projects.
She also charged the members of the committee to also facilitate necessary permits, clearance & approvals for the projects.
The permanent secretary said it is also the responsibility of the committee to prepare the transaction for the Hon. Minister of Transportation, Alhaji Muazu Sambo, to obtain the approval of tte Federal Executive Council.
She charged them to hit the ground running immediately.
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