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

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs