By Stephen Ubanna
The attack of a Turkish Crewed MOZART Container vessel , operated by Boden Denizcilik shipping Company, AS Istabul, Turkey, which has Bomar Mozart LLC, as the registered owner in 2018, and the kidnap of 15 seafarers by four well- armed Pirates with explosives, off Nigeria’s coast in the Gulf of Guinea on Saturday, January 23,21, may have forced Bashir Jamoh, Director General , Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NMASA, and his Management Team, to take tougher measure to deal decisively with the Pirates and protect shippers .
The Liberian flagged vessel, built in 2007, with the International Maritime Oganisation, IMO, No. 9337274, MMSI 636018378, which has a gross tonnge of 28616, also has a capacity 2824 TEU . The Pirates may have succeed in their Saturday, January 23, 21, attack on the MOZART Container vessel, which they had boarded at gun point because they had breached the ship protective citadel with explosives, showing how deadly the Pirates operating in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea had become in the recent time.
Recall that in 2020, alone, the Pirates, operating between Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea, which borders more than a dozen of countries , in the West and Central African sub-regions, had kidnapped more than 130 seafarers in 22 different incidents, and accounted for all but five of the vessels seized worldwide going by the report of the International Maritime Bureau. There is no gainsaying the fact the Gulf of Guinea , off the coasts of Nigeria, Guinea, Togo, Benin and Cameroon, is the most dangerous area in the world of Piracy.
Informed sources told The Value News that the attack on the Turkish Crews Mozart Container vessel has raised international pressure on NIMASA and the Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas , a Vice Admiral, led Nigerian Navy, to do more to protect shippers, which have called for tougher actions in recent weeks. Security experts fear that for Pirates to resort to the use of sophisticated ammunitions is an indication that the Piracy activities in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea is getting more deadlier by the day.
Given that the Turkish Container Crew vessel , has been confirmed to be in the Central African country of Gabon waters and that the Gabonese sailours who were a few nautical miles away from the port of Genti has made appreciable effort to save the e vessel from damage,the news making rounds was that the ship’s fourth Captain, Furkan Yaren, had been cruising blindly since the attack on Saturday , toward Gabon, with damage to the ship controls as only the radar are currently working for now.
As at press time, the Pirates , who were said to have kidnapped the 15 crewed Turkish Container vessel, had not contacted the Gabonese Authorities or the Bodem Company Management for Negotiation to facilitate the release of the sailors.
That much was confirmed by Mevlut Cavusoglu, the Turkey Foreign minister. He had said that ’’the Pirates had only spoken after a time to make their demands’’, noting that all kinds of preparation and work have been done to facilitate the release of the Crew.
Determined to stop the Piracy attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, Jamoh, the NIMASA , Director Gneral, had told Milland Dixon Dikio, a retired army Colonel and Interim Sole Administrator, Presidential Amnesty Programme, PAP, recently, in his Abuja office that in the fight against Piracy and other Criminal activities in Nigerian maritime domain, the agency has been working in partnership with other agencies that are maritime related ‘’ to collectively come up with solutions to tackle the menace in the country’’.
Aware of the dangers of Piracy to the country’s economy, Jamoh, the NIMASA boss, who has been described as a man of vision by Dikio, the PPAP, interim Sole Administrator, had confirmed the establishment of a maritime Intelligence Unit in the agency that would ‘’ help in the identification of early warning signs of Pirates attacks in order to prevent security breaches in Nigerian waters. Many believe that without the establishment of the Maritime Intelligence Unit in the agency, and the recent installation as well as deployment of the many of the maritime assets that had been supplied by the Israeli security firm, HLS Systems and Technologies Limited, which had won the $195 million Contract in 2017, under the Integrated National Security and Water Ways Protection Infrastructure, popular, Deep Blue, Project, the situation in Nigeria waters and Gulf of Guinea, particular, the Niger Delta , region, may have been worse.
Recall that the Israeli security firm, had already delivered two Umanned Aerial Vessels, and Two Special mission vessels to the agency . This is in addition to 17 fast interceptor boats and 15 armoured vehicles. The $195 million maritime assets, according to Jamoh, the NIMASA, Director General, were fitted with ‘’ intelligence gathering capabilities through air, land and sea’’. This may have turned out to be a major check on the Pirates operating in Nigeria waters and the Gulf of Guinea in the recent time. But the international Community still want the NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy to adopt tougher measures to deal the with the Gulf of Guinea pirates since other countries within the region have failed to do their own part, blaming it on lack of resources to effectively Patrol their own area of the Gulf of Guine.