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

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs