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Has Deep Blue project helped in suppression of pirates in Gulf of Guinea?

Pirates attack in Gulf of Guinea

—-an update on piracy incidents in Gulf of Guinea

A U.N. resolution last week condemned piracy in the Gulf of Guinea — the most dangerous piracy hot spot in the world.

 In 2020, over 40 percent of piracy incidents occurred in West African waters.
 And 95 percent of all kidnapped crew members were taken from ships transiting the Gulf of Guinea.
Can maritime security efforts help reverse these trends? While global maritime piracy generally decreased from 2015 to 2020, piracy incidents increased substantially in the Gulf of Guinea.

 Our research finds that piracy incidents in West African waters also tended to be more violent than elsewhere, as fighting on land, especially in and around the Niger Delta, appeared to spill out onto the water, as shown in the figure below.

A January 2021 incident involving the Liberian-flagged ship MV Mozart near São Tomé and Príncipe left one seaman dead.

 Pirates kidnapped 15 other sailors in that attack and ransomed them for an undisclosed amount.

The incident occurred approximately 180 kilometers off São Tomé Island and 375 kilometers from Nigeria, making it one of the farthest offshore attacks to date in the Gulf of Guinea.

Yet the MV Mozart attack was followed by a dramatic decline in piracy off Nigeria, with incidents in 2021 dropping nearly 50 percent from 2020 levels.

In fact, piracy incidents now appear to be at a six-year low.
 The 57 sailors kidnapped from vessels in the Gulf of Guinea in 2021 were significantly lower than the 130 crew members seized in 2020.
This drop is welcome news for governments in West Africa that feared unrelenting high costs from persistent maritime insecurity.
In 2021, there were six piracy incidents per month, a 33 percent decrease from the 2019 and 2020 monthly averages.

There have been five incidents per month in the first quarter of 2022. What, if anything, has changed?

Improving maritime security

The Gulf of Guinea contains valuable oil and gas reserves, as well as rich fishing grounds, that are exploited by organized criminal groups and violent armed groups.
 London insurers continue to find the waters between Togo and Gabon at a heightened risk for war, piracy, terrorism and related perils — especially crew abductions.

 But international aid, regional cooperation and local investments in building maritime security capacity may be finally paying off.

The United States and Europe contribute to maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea.

Funding for port security enhancements, information sharing, law enforcement training and capacity building are all intended to help ensure peace and promote economic prosperity.

E.U. countries and the United States have increasingly deployed naval vessels to the region to combat organized criminal groups targeting commercial transport ships.

 The Danish navy sent a frigate to the area in November 2021.
 France, Spain and Portugal regularly patrol West African waters.

The United States hosts multinational naval exercises in the Gulf of Guinea that is meant to improve counter-piracy operations and impede illegal fishing.

Regionally, West African governments have collaborated on efforts to secure the gulf against transnational organized crime.

In 2013, 25 governments in the region met in Cameroon to sign the Yaoundé Code of Conduct.
This agreement produced a new maritime security architecture, built around information and intelligence sharing as well as coordinated naval operations.

The compact’s goal is to identify and apprehend criminal groups, protect seafarers and deter would-be pirates.

Fights over marine boundaries are creating safe zones for pirates

Five West African countries have established multinational maritime coordination centers, with additional operational bureaus set up in each of the 19 countries bordering the gulf.

If maritime boundaries once protected illegal fishers and pirates from capture, improved information sharing and subsequent coordinated actions by West African navies now render cross-border escapes more dubious.

Will Deep Blue help?

The Nigerian government has separately pursued a strategy designed to secure Nigeria’s own waterways — but the effort may also help to safeguard the wider maritime environment.

The Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure project, popularly known as Deep Blue, commits substantial resources to combat piracy, oil theft, smuggling and illegal fishing.

Deep Blue funding has supplied coastal patrol vehicles, interceptor boats and reconnaissance aircraft that all contribute to a vessel-protection mission.

In July 2021, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari also commissioned a surveillance system to provide a comprehensive picture of Nigeria’s maritime environment to inhibit criminal activity.

Additional troops deployed on land in Nigeria may help pursue criminal groups and their assets.

Will Deep Blue work? Bashir Jamoh, Director General of Nigeria’s Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA)credited the deployment of Deep Blue assets for the decline in Gulf of Guinea piracy in 2021.

He also acknowledged assistance from regional governments, the shipping industry and foreign navies.

Nigeria’s 2019 piracy-suppression law, despite its limitations, further ensures that captured pirates and other criminals will be prosecuted.

 In August 2020, a Nigerian court sentenced the first three pirates under this law for the hijacking of an Equatorial Guinean cargo ship.

Still, recent counter-piracy operations by European warships don’t appear to have involved the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency — which is somewhat troubling if Nigeria’s new assets and closer communication are key to maritime security in the region.

Ship attacks and crew abductions may be down in West African waters, but the decline can only partly be attributed to Deep Blue.

 European and U.S. naval deployments and improved regional collaboration probably matter more when it comes to curbing maritime crime.

Of course, better policing at sea doesn’t address socio-economic challenges on land that help drive piracy.

Tackling corruption, poverty and environmental degradation throughout West Africa, but particularly in the Niger Delta, remains essential for reducing the demand for maritime piracy and other types of sea crimes.

But addressing these broader challenges, experts point out, will also require assistance from the international community.

Analysis by Brandon Prins, Aaron Gold, Anup Phayal, Simon Rotzer, Curie Maharani, Sayed Riyadi and Kayla Marie Reno 
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Prices of cooking gas to crash as federal government exempts LPG, allied products from Customs duty,VAT

 The Federal government has directed that imported Liquefied Petrolium Gas(Cooking gas) and all its allied equipment like cylinders should be excepted from the payment of Customs duty and Valu-Added Tax(VAT).
This directive is expected to crash the galloping prices of the product which is being sold between N950 to N1200 per 1 kg
The Ministry of Finance disclosed this in a letter (dated November 28, 2023) to the Special Adviser to the President on Energy; the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS); and the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
According to the ministry, the exemption aligned with President Bola Tinubu’s commitment to enhance Nigeria’s investment climate, and promote clean cooking practices.
“In line with His Excellency, President Bola Tinubu’s commitment to improving the investment climate in Nigeria, increasing the supply of LPG to meet local demand, reducing market prices and promoting clean cooking practices, I hereby affirm Presidential directive dated July 29, 2022, with reference number PRES/88/MPR/99,” the letter reads.
“Accordingly, the importation of LPG utilising HS Codes 2711.12.00.00, 2711.13.00.00 and 2711.19.00.00 is exempt from Import Duty and Value-Added Tax. Consequently, the Importation of LPG shall incur a 0% duty rate and 0% VAT rate, effective immediately.”
The ministry instructed the NCS and FIRS to comply with the directive pending its official gazetting.   \
Also, the ministry directed the NCS to comply with the presidential directive, dated July 29, 2022, and withdraw all debit notes issued to petroleum marketers who have imported LPG “using codes 2711. and 2711.13.00.00 from August 26, 2019, to the present date”.
Other items exempted from VAT and duty payment are LPG cylinders, LPG cascades, gas leak detectors, steel pipes, steel valves and fittings, LPG dispensers, gas generators, LPG trucks, among others.
Before now, 7.5 per cent VAT was slammed on the product which made its prices in the market to hit the roof.
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Maritime media charges federal government on disbursement of controversial CVFF

President Tinubu
The Eyewitness Reporter
Worried by the stalemated disbursement of the controversial Cabotage Vessel Finance Fund (CVFF) which has lingered for so long, the League of Maritime Editors (LOME) has urged President Ahmed Tinubu to expedite action on the release of the funds to trigger the development of indigenous shipping industry.
The group also called for urgent rehabilitation of collapsed critical port infrastructure at the nation’s seaports.
The President of LOME,  Timothy Paul Okorocha, made these calls at the League’s 25th anniversary held in Lagos on Wednesday, with the theme ‘Harnessing Nigeria’s Potential in Marine & Blue Economy’,
While congratulating President Bola Tinubu for the further unbundling of the Ministry of Transportation and the establishment of the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, Okorocha appealed to the President to exercise the required political will to push further by ensuring that the routine talk about the rehabilitation of collapsed critical port infrastructure receives urgent executive attention.
“As development partners, the League looks forward to the effective participation of the respective agencies in the current administration’s renewed agenda template; and wants to see the Nigerian Ports Authority move away from the ritual of endless talk and lamentations into doing the needful, the reconstruction of broken down asset and infrastructure,” he said.
Also worried by the lingering delayed disbursement of the  CVFF, the League further urged President Ahmed Tinubu to provide the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, and his ministry, the needed impetus to bring to an end, the unending rat race of the disbursement of the CVFF, saying that the fund established since 2003 would jump-start a new lease of life for the capacity development of indigenous ship-owners.
He added that this would enable Nigeria to participate meaningfully in seaborne trade; especially with the proposed commencement of the implementation policy of the blue economy.
The LOME President noted the genuine struggle by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and its leadership, especially under the present administration to disburse the CVFF but observed that the efforts suffered political disruptions.
“As insiders, the League over the years has seen the genuine struggle by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and its leadership, especially under the present administration to disburse the CVFF in its commitment to grow local capacity building, but observe the otherwise disruptive tendencies within the field of political play.
“We appeal to Mr. President to use his good offices to prevail on the relevant authorities to respond to the needs of our industry as there can be no better time than now,” he said.
 Speaking on the theme of the conference, Doctor Charles Okoroefe of Nigeria Maritime University also hailed the unbundling of the transportation ministry which he said was a misnomer.
He has decried the untapped potential of marine resources, especially in the area of tourism in Nigeria, regretting that marine tourism is lacking in Nigeria unlike in Gambia and the Caribbean where marine tourism is a major source of income where marine tourism rakes in billions of dollars.
“Egypt made about $14 billion in tourism from the Nile in 2022,” he added.
“People troop in into the Bahamas. Do we (Nigeria) have the potential? Yes. But the question is how prepared are we?” he queried.
He stressed that marine tourism is a solution in terms of job creation and that the time has come for Nigeria to progress from potential to actuality.
“So talking about job creation. All of these elements I mentioned are potential areas for job creation because it is a major issue in Nigeria today.
” A lot of young people are jobless. Meanwhile, we have an area that is green where a lot of jobs can be created.
“So I think we have to look at that potential area of driving our marine and Blue Economy,” Okoroefe stated.
He also called on the Ministry of Marine & Blue Economy to synergise with the Ministry of Agriculture to harness the potential of the sea.
 “So, I believe the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy has to synergise with the Ministry of Agriculture and also harness exotic seafood for export,” he explained, saying we cannot be depending on imports alone.
He urged the ministry to look at other fundamental seafood we have in excess that we can process through the rivers for export.
The marine expert regretted that Nigeria still imports palm oil from Malaysia, the same people who came to Nigeria to learn how to plant seedlings and today Nigeria is importing palm oil from Malaysia, “these are exportable items. So I believe the Ministry of Marine has to do a lot.
“With the Ministry of Agriculture for instance, with the Ministry of Power and the Ministry of Tourism, these are resources that we need to address in order for us to develop and come out of potential to thrive. On our ocean and marine resources, we’ve been talking endlessly.”
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Tantita refutes, describes  allegation of oil theft by Navy as libelous, defamatory 

Capt. Warredi Enisuoh
The Eyewitness Reporter 
Following an allegation of involvement in the alleged oil theft incident against Tantita Security Services Limited by the Nigerian Navy, the security outfit has described the accusation as laughable and an attempt by the Navy to cover up the truth.
The security outfit, which has received widespread commendation for its efforts in combatting the menace of oil theft in the country, debunked accusations of any involvement of its operatives in the incident while lampooning the Navy for underestimating its operatives.
Reacting to the development, the Executive Director – Operations and Technical, Tantita Security Services Nigeria Limited, Capt. Warredi Enisuoh in a statement described the Navy’s claim as “defamatory and libelous”.
The statement said: “The activities going on inside the Nigerian Navy’s FalconEye should be investigated as the ship was only a few kilometers off the coast of Ondo State, well within view of the Nigerian Navy’s FalconEye, but they never reacted”.
“We are indeed saddened and disappointed that the Nigerian Navy could descend so low as to make such bizarre accusations against our organisation, knowing the same to be false,” he added.
“Perhaps they are not aware that video evidence of what transpired between the Tantita operatives and the Nigerian Navy at the scene exists and has been transmitted to the highest authorities.
“We will therefore not join issues with the Nigerian Navy as we are well aware that Nigerians know who is who.”
It would be recalled that the activities of Tantita and other security outfits have saved the country a whopping $43.2m from oil theft daily.
Recalled that on Thursday, December 7, 2023, the Nigerian Navy had disclosed that 17 people said to be engaged in the illegal siphoning of crude oil in Ondo State were nabbed aboard a 77-meter-long Motor Tanker (MT) VINNALARIS 1 Lagos.
Navy spokesperson, Commodore Adedotun Olukayode Ayo-Vaughan, disclosed in a statement, saying the suspects were nabbed at the Forward Operating Base (FOB) Igbokoda in the early hours of Thursday.
However, a day later, the Navy turned around to accuse Tantita Security Services Limited (TSSL) of complicity in the incident.
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