Piracy incidents off the Nigerian coast were 21% higher in the first four months of this year than the previous peak levels recorded in 2008, according to a security report.
Control Risks’ maritime risk analysis division said that piracy and armed robbery at sea from January to April, 2016 was one of the biggest threats to maritime operators in the region.
The frequency of incidents was 119% higher, compared with the same period in 2015. Control Risks data also revealed that offshore Bayelsa state was the top area for piracy incidents in Nigeria with 56% of the total reported being recorded in this location during the period.
While theft and robbery in Nigerian ports and at anchorages saw a significant decrease thus far this year, there was a corresponding increase in the number of kidnappings which took place place during piracy attacks offshore.
For example, the data showed an average of three kidnappings occurring per month in the first four months of this year, compared to one kidnapping per month in the same period in 2015.
· Piracy and armed robbery incidents January - April, 2016 were most prevalent in offshore Bayelsa state (56%) and offshore Rivers State (17%).
· 56% of recorded incidents involved oilfield and tankers.
· 25% of incidents occurred along internal waterways.
· 119% increase in piracy, compared with same period in 2015.
Sebastian Villyn, Maritime Risk Analysis at Control Risks consultant, commented:“The number of piracy incidents we’ve recorded occurring off the Nigerian coast in the first four months of this year is striking. This is a significant increase in activity since the peak of 2008.
“One of the drivers behind this growth is a change in tactics by criminal groups, focusing on what is perceived as more financially rewarding activity such as kidnap for ransom, instead of offshore robbery and low level port and anchorage crime.
“Equally, while tankers and oilfield support vessels are prime targets, all vessels are potentially at risk of attack and should be prepared when operating in this region. Maritime operators can help to reduce the risks to their crew through a number of measures. These include having access to up to date maritime intelligence on potential regional risks; security training for crew members on how to respond should they be faced with a kidnap for ransom situation and maritime security design expert support to help protect assets both onshore and offshore,”he said.
In recognition of the increased level of piracy incidents in the area this year, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari recently launched Naval Operation Tsare Teku to patrol the area in a bid to reduce crime.