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Dryad Global cautions “not yet Uhuru” despite decline in piracy in Gulf of Guinea

Pirates attack in Gulf of Guinea
A maritime risk management company, Dryad Global, has advised the global maritime community, especially the coastal states in the Gulf of Guinea, not to be carried away by the euphoria of the decline in the pirate attacks in the region, urging them to be cautious in their enthusiasm.
The International Maritime Bureau ( IMB) has declared that the Gulf of Guinea witnessed a sharp drop of about 54 per cent in the activities of pirates in the Gulf of Guinea in 2021, the lowest ever recorded in about 17 years.
However, Dryad Global said the stakeholders should not be taken in by these statistics, cautioning that the drop doesn’t mean the pirate threats in the Gulf of Guinea are over.
“A decline last year in piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, which has for some time been the epicentre of maritime crime, should be treated with caution and does not mean the threat has disappeared” Dryad Global declared

While Dryad welcomed the significant decline in 2021 of incidents in the region, often involving the violent armed boarding of vessels and the kidnap and ransom of crews, it questioned whether the risk to ships and crews has been reduced.

In 2021, overall incidents of piracy and maritime crime throughout West Africa declined by 54% compared to 2020,  Dryad noted in a recent analysis of maritime security in West Africa.

 Incidents of actual and attempted attacks and vessels being fired upon declined by more than 75% and the overall numbers of vessels boarded throughout the region have fallen by 32%.
 Incidents of vessels being boarded and crews kidnapped have declined by 66%.
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) attributed “vigorous action” by authorities as one reason for the drop in piracy.
Last year the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre received 132 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships around the world.
Incidents comprised 115 vessels boarded, 11 attempted attacks, five vessels fired on and one vessel hijacked.

The overall reduction in reported incidents in 2021 is attributed to a decline in activity in the Gulf of Guinea region which saw reported incidents decrease from 81 in 2020 to 34 in 2021.

 Kidnappings at sea dropped 55% in 2021. The Gulf of Guinea continues to account for all kidnapping incidents globally, with 57 crew members taken in seven separate incidents, the IMB noted.

“In assessing trend data alone across the past 11 months, it would be easy, but false, to conclude that a reduction in numbers is indicative of a decline in the threat from piracy and maritime crime in West Africa,” writes Dryad Global’s Head of Intelligence,  Munro Anderson.

Anderson believes that only when capability, opportunity, and intent are disrupted that a sustained reduction in threat is likely to be achieved.

When looking at the reasons for the drop in piracy off West Africa, Dryad sees a significant development being the launch of Nigeria’s highly anticipated ‘Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure programme’, also known as the ‘Deep Blue Project’ (DBP).

This is the first integrated maritime security strategy in West Africa aimed at countering piracy.
Launched on 10 June 2021, it will see the phased deployment of 16 armoured vehicles for coastal patrol, two special mission vessels, 17 fast interceptor boats, two special mission aircraft for surveillance of the country’s exclusive economic zone, three special mission helicopters for search and rescue operations, and four unmanned aerial vehicles.

Further significant development within Nigeria is the launching of the ‘Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offenses (SPOMO) Act’ passed by its National Assembly in 2019, providing a dedicated legislative framework through which to support the prosecution of maritime crime and piracy.

Nigeria has to date shown a willingness to publicly signpost the successful implementation of the SPOMO Act.

 Ubong Essien, Special Assistant on Communication and Strategy to the Director-General of NIMASA, stated that the recent conviction of 10 people for the hijacking of the FV Hailufeng II on 15 May 2020 brought the number of pirates that have been convicted under the SPOMO Act to 20.
With an approximate 16-month timeframe for conviction, the success of such operations within 2021 may not be known until a much later date, Dryad pointed out.

“The DBP and corresponding legislative reform have placed Nigeria in a definitive position of leadership in the fight against piracy and maritime crime within the Gulf of Guinea.

“However, despite the commendable efforts of Nigeria, the absence of data indicating a tangible and sustained engagement of assets in the interruption of offshore acts of piracy suggests that the launch of the DBP and the implementation of the SPOMO Act is far from solely responsible for the dramatic decline in piracy throughout the region,” Anderson writes.

In seeking to explain the steep decline in piracy throughout the Gulf of Guinea, Dryad looked at the role of intent, which it said is primarily driven by poverty.

 Additional factors include unemployment, weak governance, corruption, community violence and militancy, established subgroup hostility to the state and the presence of established organised crime.
All of these drive disenfranchised young men from riverine and coastal communities towards serious organised crime and piracy.

Anderson believed that additional security resources seldom deter pirates and in Somalia, groups of disenfranchised young men were only incentivised away from piracy following the launch of onshore programmes of economic development and reform.

“Throughout 202,  there has been little substantive improvement in these core conditions throughout the disparate communities of Niger Delta states.

“A situation further compounded by the impact of the COVID pandemic on national resources and international assistance.
 2021 has seen an increase in riverine criminality involving attacks on local populations and riverine communities and a new militant grouping under the aegis of the Bayan-Men has unleashed a campaign of violence and disorder against multinational oil companies within the region, motivated by a perceived lack of community incentive and involvement,” Dryad noted.

“Consequently, without improvement in the conditions onshore that create a fertile setting for piracy, it is near impossible to argue that there has been any alteration or deterrence against individuals’ intent to engage in piracy” Dryad declared.

Piracy is essentially a form of serious organised crime and one of its hallmarks is its ability to occupy the ‘grey space’ between legitimate and legal enterprise and criminal network, with members often occupying official positions in business or local government.

Within the southern Delta states, this ‘grey space’ of legitimacy is deeply ingrained, Anderson believed.
“Ingrained corruption and ineffectual governance have given rise to a vast network of criminality that spans narcotics and pharmaceutical product smuggling, illegal fuel bunkering, militancy, and piracy.”

With the launch of the $195 million, Deep Blue Project came a substantial level of political focus, both domestic and international.

“Such a focus is highly likely to have had a detrimental impact on the freedom of movement and operations of those who occupy the described grey space of legitimacy in the southern Delta states.
” With Nigeria calling for an end to war risk premiums for vessels operating in its waters, there is a great deal of political investment in the success of the DBP, and it is highly likely that this investment has translated into a hostile operating environment for any would-be ‘sponsor’ of offshore piracy,” Anderson noted.

“It could be argued that the intensity of the political focus, which has created an increasingly hostile environment for would-be piracy sponsors, has reduced piracy, via the ‘back door’ and regardless of cause, the effect is to be welcomed.

” However, such assumptions would be false. The criminality of this nature has a fluidity that is likely to adapt and overcome political pressure and will most likely lead to a return to high volumes of piracy as political focus wanes.”

In conclusion, Dryad believed the decline in piracy in 2021 should not be seen as indicative of any fundamental or lasting change brought about by any one state or initiative.

“Claims of radically reduced risks within such a short timeframe and calls for the ending of war risk premiums are premature.
” Whilst regional counter-piracy efforts in 2021 are to be commended, they require long term investment, both politically and financially, with onshore investment arguably of greater importance than offshore assets.”

Similarly, the IMB urged seafarers to continue exercising caution and vigilance in spite of a drop in attacks.

 The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre warned the threat to seafarers persists and continues to urge crews and vessels plying Gulf of Guinea waters to be cautious.
 This is because perpetrators are violent and the risk to crews remains high. Evidence of this was the kidnapping of six crew members from a container vessel in mid-December.

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Tin Can Customs nets N574.3 billion in 2022 —–records N242.365 billion in exports

The Eyewitness reporter
The  Tin Can Command of the Nigeria Customs Service has realized a sum of N574.3 billion in 2022.
The Customs Area Controller (CAC), Tin Can Island Port Command, Comptroller Olakunle Oloyede, disclosed this at a news conference at weekend.

Oloyede said the figure represented an increase of N80.90 billion or 16.39 percent when compared with N493.4 billion recorded in 2021.

“This feat can be attributed to the constant rejigging of the existing measures geared toward sustaining the command’s revenue profile.

“It is as well as utilisation of some disruptive strategic measures such as: periodic capacity building, reshuffling and redeployment of officers using the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis and implementation of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) valuation,” he said.

He noted that the command also ensured robust and continuous stakeholder engagements and collaborations with all sister government agencies and maritime associations.

“These led to timely intelligence sharing, utilisation and voluntary compliance to government’s extant laws by the trading public,” Oloyede said.

He added that the command increased surveillance on declarations made in order to sniff out improper declarations as well as offending items.

He pointed out that the system paid off with the command recording a total of 38 seizures with a Duty Paid Value (DPV) of N1.85 billion.

“These seizures comprise 763kgs of Colorado (Cannabis Sativa) weighing 345.1kg with a street market value of N714.6 million only as given by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), 5 x 40 containers of used motor tyre (5,060 pieces).

“Also among seized items are 1,150 bales of second-hand clothing, 1,190 cartons of 20 per carton of potassium bromate and baking powder, 11,392 cartons of 1,200 per carton Pharmacol injection chloroquine phosphate 322.5mg.5ml (IV and IM), 206,000 pieces of finished machetes.

“Also, 1,383 cartons of 50 rolls per carton of cigarettes, 650 cartons of 50 pieces per carton of new ladies shoes, 2,666 pieces in 36 pallets of new starter Ex-Premium Inverter Battery, 1,980 cartons of assorted non-alcoholic beverages and 1,048 cartons of Tilda basmati rice,” he said.

Oloyede listed others as 2,594 pieces of ammunition and 20 pieces of arms comprising of one pistol with 611090 (S/W) model JCP 40mm, one used Co2 air pistol with accessories cal 117(4.5m)BM, one marksman repeater pistol, six Mace pepper gun and 10 suspected arms of various types.

He said that the seizures when compared with the 2021 record of 27 seizures with a Debit Note of N607.27 only, show an increase of 11 seizures and N1.24 billion.

He said that the increase in the DPV rate could be associated with increased surveillance and intensified anti-smuggling drive, the high value of seized items and Naira depreciation that led to higher exchange rates on imported items.

“These prohibited items were seized and forfeited to the Federal Government in line with the provision of Sections 46 and 161 of the Customs & Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap 45 LFN 2004 and Absolute Prohibition List of CET 2022- 2026.

“The command pertinently acknowledges the prominent roles played by the Customs Intelligence Unit, Valuation Unit, Federal Operations Unit, CGC Strike Force as well as interventions of Sister Regulatory Agencies like the NDLEA, Standards Organisation of Nigeria SON, the Nigeria Police and others in ensuring these seizures and detentions were made.

“A total of 60 suspects were detained in 2022 and were granted administrative bail while the command has 8 cases pending in court,” he said.

Oloyede said the command recorded a significant increase in the Free On Board (FOB) of exports in the period under review to the tune of $589,696,648 (N242,365,322,333.00) as against the $496,075,796 (N141,985,109,159.00) recorded in 2021.

He attributed the increase of 34.4 percent in the FOB to the high quality and value of exported commodities.

“However, the export report shows a decrease in tonnage of export from 1,723,986.8 in 2021 to 336,179.5 in 2022.

“The decrease in tonnage could be connected to current government fiscal policy which prohibited the export of wood and wood products as well as the global unrest with its concomitant economic challenges,” he said

He listed the commodities exported through the command to include: cocoa beans, insecticides, dried ginger, empty bottles, soya beans, cashew nuts, cigarettes, rubbers, cocoa butter, frozen shrimps, copper ingots, aluminum ingots, sesame seeds and other manufactured items.

“Cocoa beans were the highest exported commodity while the legend stout was the least exported commodity.

“The future of export in the command looks brighter as the command in line with the headquarter circular on Export Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) released a Port Order on the Command’s harmonised SOP for the seamless facilitation of Export Trade in strict compliance with Extant Laws and guidelines on Export,” he said.

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CBN succumbs  to pressure, extends use of old naira notes to February 10

The Eyewitness reporter
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has finally caved in to Public outcry over the February 1st deadline for the use of old naira notes when on Sunday, the apex bank announced February 10 as the new date.
Announcing the new deadline in a statement, Governor Central Bank Of Nigeria(CBN), Godwin Emefiele, said the decision to add extra 10 days was “to allow for the collection of more old notes”

Up till Saturday, CBN had insisted on the 31st January deadline for the validity of the old N200, N500 and N1,000 despite overwhelming complaints that the notes are either not available or in short supply in the banks or their Automated Teller Machines.

Last October, Emefiele announced the Naira redesign policy which entails the issuance of new notes to replace the existing N200, N500 and N1,000 series.

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”No container will leave Apapa Port without 100 percent physical examination”


declares Auwal Mohammed as he takes over as new Apapa Customs Area controller

—promises to surpass N1 trillion revenue mark

—vows not to facilitate non-compliant traders


The Eyewitness reporter

Despite the deployment of cargo scanning machines, the new area comptroller of the Apapa command of the Nigeria Customs Service, Comptroller Auwal Mohammed, has vowed that no container shall leave the Apapa port without a 100 percent physical examination.

Comptroller Mohammed, who formally took over the mantle of leadership of the command Friday, 27th, January 2023, from Ag. Assistant Comptroller-General of Customs(ACG) Malanta Ibrahim Yusuf, said that the decision to subject all cargo to physical examination was meant to account for every content of container passing through the command and to maximize revenue returns to the Federal Government.

He, therefore, warned non-compliant traders to steer clear of the command as he would not facilitate their trade as he desired to surpass the one trillion revenue mark achieved by the command under the former area controller Yusuf.

”We shall continue to conduct 100 percent physical examination of cargo so that we can account for all the cargo in the containers and to generate more revenue so that we can surpass the one trillion revenue collection that the command has already achieved. No package, no container should leave Apapa port without a proper 100 percent physical examination.” the new Comptroller told his officers who had gathered to welcome him.

He continued ”Today marks another era in the history of the Apapa command of the Nigeria Customs Service. I am inheriting a well-structured area command. The level of achievements and status achieved under my predecessor will be sustained while I will look for all means to surpass them.

I am ready for the job. I am aware of the big shoe I am stepping into but I am well prepared for it”, Comptroller Mohammad said.

He, therefore, asked the officers to be at their utmost best to cooperate and work with him to sustain and surpass the legacies of his predecessor.

He also solicited the support and cooperation of stakeholders whom he promised to engage with and updated frequently on all issues and policies that will enhance their trade and performance of the command.

The new helmsman also charged all the releasing officers and the image analysts who will be conducting the scanning of cargo to be diligent and exhibit the utmost sense of responsibility and professionalism in their duty so as not to release uncustomed goods.

Mohammed, who was redeployed from Onne Port Area Command when he was the area controller, also enjoined the importers and their agents to be compliant with the cargo clearance procedural processes in order to enjoy a seamless cargo release.

”The goods clearance procedure is simple. Everything starts and ends with declaration and if there is a proper and correct declaration of cargo, there won’t be any need for delay and unnecessary interference with the process”, he admonished.

Earlier, the outgoing Area Controller, Ag. Yusuf, while handling over the operations and procedures of the command to his successor, solicited the support and cooperation of all the officers and other stakeholders for the new helmsman, urging them to avail the new comptroller of the same level of support, guidance, and cooperation and advice they gave him.

He also lauded the untiring efforts of his officers whom he said were instrumental in the monumental achievements recorded by the command under his watch.

Consequently, some officers who excelled in the discharge of their duties were commended and awarded certificates of merit, including the indefatigable Public Relations officer of the Command, CSC Abubakar Usman.



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