Piracy attacks have continued to occur along the Nigerian and Ghanian coasts, even during this yuletide season.
According to reports by global risk intelligence partner, Dryad Maritime, three incidents of piracy were recorded between December 18 and 21 despite the Federal Government’s pledges to nip waterways insecurity in the bud.
These attacks were preluded by a warning from the Maritime Domain Awareness for Trade – Gulf of Guinea, MDAT-GoG on December 17.
It disclosed that a high-risk maritime incident would occur in the coming days in the following countries: Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote d’ Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria.
It also listed Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome & Principe, and Gabon as part of the designated areas for futuristic attacks.
As predicted, an unknown vessel was approached by a one-speed boat containing 8-10 persons in Bayelsa on December 18. Dryad reported that an alert was raised onboard. The vessel started evasive manoeuvres forcing the speed boat to stop its approach of boarding the vessel.
Similarly, on December 19, a Singaporean containership named MAERSK CADIZ was approached by an unknown number of attackers while sailing from Tema to Kribi, in the South Province of Cameroon.
Dryad reported that the vessel was boarded even though Nigerian authorities were alerted. However, details regarding the welfare of the crew remain unknown at this time.
On December 21, a Maltese containership, PORT GDYNIA, was also approached and boarded by an unknown number of attackers. It was sailing from Lome to Bata, in Equatorial Guinea.
Till date, details regarding the welfare of the crew remain unknown.
Dryad in its report said, “There has been a surge of incidents in the past five weeks, resulting in an increased risk rating for the Gulf of Guinea high-risk area to critical on November 11. The increase in risk profile was further underpinned by the release of an imminent attack warning by MDAT-GoG covering the waters of ECOWAS Areas F. E. D.”
Vessels were advised to operate within the area maintaining the highest level of vigilance. Similarly, the International Maritime Bureau advised that vessels remained at least 200-250 nautical miles offshore where possible.
Just recently, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, stated that the constant attacks on vessels en route Nigeria in the Gulf of Guinea were embarrassing.
While inspecting some of the Deep Blue Project equipment last month in Lagos, Amaechi decried the embarrassment and pledged to rid the nation’s waters of criminal activities.
Meanwhile, the world’s largest international shipping association, Baltic and International Maritime Council has tasked Nigeria to act on its promises to police its waters as the Gulf of Guinea dry season brings a spike in piracy incidents.
It also stated that the industry was interested in the first trial of accused pirates under the country’s new law.