Anti-Piracy: Fear Grips Shipping Syndicate As NIMASA Secures Conviction Of Suspects

By Stephen Ubanna

With the Conviction of Binaebi Johnson, Daniel Lemmar and Ghane Gordon, by a PortHarcout High Court presided over by Justice Mohammed  Sani, over alleged  involvement  in  the hijack of an Equatorial Guinean Flagged ocean going vessel, MV ELOBEY, off the Coast of the  West African country on Saturday, March 21, 2020, fear appears to have gripped  the many groups of Pirates operating in Nigerian waters  and the Gulf of Guinea.

In securing the Land mark Judgment from Justice Sani’s Court, Bashir Jamoh, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency,NIMASA, has sent a signal to the unrepentant Pirates and thieves, that operating in Nigeria maritime domain  that’’ it is no longer going to be business as usual’’

He was said to have  made it clear to those that cares to listen that, that the agency ‘’as an interested party  in the anti-Piracy war will continue  to work closely with the Nigerian  Navy  and other  government agencies, the International Community and  Industry stakeholders to achieve  improved security in Nigeria waters and the Gulf of Guinea’’

. The trio were  said  to have been Convicted under the  Suppression  of Piracy  and other Maritime Crimes, SPOMO, Act, which was  signed into Law by President Muhammadu Buhari, last June. The  convicted  suspects were said to be among  the ten Pirates arrested by the Nigerian  Navy on Saturday, March 21, 2020. In the spirit of inter-agency relationship, they were said to have been   anhanded  over to the agency for prosecution. Others are Hassan Hakeem, Gregory Smith,  Ofem Uket,, John Mark,  Chidi Amadi and Eze Amadi.  The ten suspected  Pirates who fell into the waiting hands of the Nigerian Navy Patrol Team were said to be members of a shipping syndicate operating in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea.

 The arrested  suspected  Pirates were said to have demanded  $2 million ramsome  from the  shipping agent of MV ELOBEY attacked  in order  to facilitate the release of the vessel and the Crew members.  Although the Syndicate had demanded  $2 million rasome, it was said to have been beaten  down  to $200,000, which was eventually  paid to them.

Between the  last quarter of 2019 and March , 2020, the number of Piracy attacks on Merchant vessels in Nigeria waters and the Gulf of Guinea was unimaginable. The International Maritime Bureau, IMB, revealed that in the last quarter of 2019, alone,  the Pirates  in their greed for money  had kidnapped 64 Seafarers in six different attacks on ocean going vessels in Nigeria waters and the Gulf of Guinea. Many of the Pirate groups are believed to operate outside Nigeria.

 This may have informed  why  NIMASA and the  Nigerian Navy, NN, may  have stepped up  the anti-Piracy war  in the recent time. Signs that the die-hard Pirates operating in Nigerian maritime domain  may no longer find it easy to attack ocean going vessels  emerged the day, the agency  took delivery  of two Special Mission vessels,  equipped  with sophisticated intelligence gathering  timely detection and response to illegal activities in the country waters and the Gulf of Guinea,  from HLSI Security Systems  and Techologies Limited, an Israeli , security  Company. The vessels,  named  DB Lagos and DB Abuja, according to insider  sources  are said to be  in the custody of  the  Navy. 

Note that the government had  awarded  a $195 million contract the Israeli security outfit to secure all anchorage areas in Nigeria maritime domain and supply the anti-piracy equipment  as well as train Nigerians to handle the security of the nation’s maritime  domain.

.  Until, he was removed  from office last March, by the Katsina  state born Nigerian Prsident, Dakuku Peterside, a Rivers state born Politician and former Director General of NIMASA, had said  that aside  of the two Special Mission vessels , an additional  10 FastInterceptor Boats had arrived the country. He had disclosed  that more of such  equipment needed to combat the activities of the Pirates in Nigeria are expected later in the later.. He is right. More of such anti-Piracy equipment are said to have arrived the country and deployed for operations. That much was confirmed by Jamoh, the NIMASA helmsman.

Ths may have informed the renewed  ant-piracy war in the recent time  which had forced many of the Pirate groups operating in Nigeria waters and the Gulf of Guinea to go underground. Before the involvement of the Israeli security  firm in protecting Nigeria maritime domain and supply  anti-Piracy equipment to the agency, the country , according to maritime analysts a was losing   about $2.3  billion naira annually  to the maritime thieves. That appear to have reduced drastically in the last four months, no thanks to Jamoh’s efforts.

 He had made security of Nigeria maritime domain of one of the major focus of his administration and he has kept to the promise that Kitack Lim, Secretary General, International Maritime Organisation, IMO, sent him a Commendation letter, as a way of encouraging him to intensify the anti-piracy war and prosecute the suspects caught in the act in keeping with the country’s anti-piray Law.

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