News / Africa

West African Leaders Promise to Combat Piracy Surge

Suspected pirates are paraded aboard a naval ship after their arrest by the Nigerian Navy at a defense jetty in Lagos, August 20, 2013.
Suspected pirates are paraded aboard a naval ship after their arrest by the Nigerian Navy at a defense jetty in Lagos, August 20, 2013.
Heather Murdock
A surge in piracy in the Gulf of Guinea this year has prompted West African leaders to establish a new working group intended to combine maritime law enforcement efforts.  Analysts in Nigeria say security forces already have the capacity to slow the attacks, but lack the political will.
   
In the rivers and creeks of Nigeria's Niger Delta, speedboat drivers say piracy in the Gulf of Guinea has frightened some of their customers away, but they continue to carry oil workers to the high seas.
 
Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
The International Maritime Bureau says West African waters are now among the most dangerous in the world - far more dangerous than the waters off Somalia, where pirates have become less active.  A report this month said more than half of the pirate killings and all of the kidnappings worldwide this year have happened in the Gulf of Guinea.  Most of the attacks were off the shores of Nigeria.
 
Edward Oforomeh, a lawyer and former police superintendent, says pirate attacks off Nigeria also hurt Nigerians on shore.
 
“The increase in piracy is a threat to our economy, a very big threat to our economy," Oforomeh said. "So I want to say that those responsible for checking the hoodlums that are bent on this piracy, they should wake up. They should wake up to their duties.”
 
Heavily armed pirates ransack ships and steal the cargo - usually oil products - while sometimes killing or abducting crew members.  

Last week, an American ship captain and chief engineer of an oil supply vessel were kidnapped off the Nigerian coast.  U.S. officials accuse pirates of the abduction and Nigerian Navy says it has a search-and-rescue team on the water.  
 
But some analysts say pirates are often better armed than the Nigerian Navy.  Nigerian security forces have the manpower and the training, but not the resources they need to fight pirates, said Oforomeh.
 
“That is why we appear not to be able to cope.  But if we were able to equip them as overseas…countries equip their people, we will be able to contain them.”
 
The International Maritime Bureau says all Nigerian waters “remain risky,” but West African leaders say the danger is to the entire region.  At a meeting in Dakar last weekend, leaders from the West African economic bloc, ECOWAS, announced they will establish a maritime safety coordination center in Cameroon to combat “piracy, terrorism, extremism and banditry at sea.”
 
But here in Nigeria, some analysts say beefed up security alone will not make the waters safer.  Abubakar Kari, a political science lecturer at the University of Abuja, says criminals - even when they are caught - are often not punished in Nigeria.  Corruption, he adds, makes it harder to catch them.
 
“By corruption I mean those whose duty it is to stop the piracy - I’m talking of the security agents - sometimes are actually participants in it," Kari said. "They collect money and gratification from the pirates and allow them to perpetrate their acts.”
 
The International Maritime Bureau says the Nigeria is currently developing a new legal framework to combat piracy.
 
In mid-October, Nigeria hosted Spain, Britain, the United States, and the Netherlands in a joint training operation because maritime security, they said, is a “common global heritage to mankind.”

Hilary Uguru contributed to this report from the Niger Delta region.

You May Like

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More