Several members of an oil tanker flying under a Nigerian flag were abducted by Pirates on Tuesday. The ship, travelling off Nigeria on Africa’s west coast, was crewed by 12 Pakistanis and 5 Nigerians. An unknown number of them were taken hostage by armed gunman that boarded the ship in the early morning hours.
The Gulf of Guinea has seen a recent uptick in piracy, as raiders are having an easy time hijacking and robbing ships off the coast of Africa’s main oil producer, Nigeria. The country also produces significant quantities of metal and cocoa, diversifying the targets pirates can go after. This has caused shipping in the region to drop dramatically, as insurance rates rise along with risk.
Although details on this specific incident were scant as the situation was still developing, officials close to the situation believed that ransom was paid by the oil company to release the hostages. This is becoming a common occurrence and an unfortunate operating expense for shipping companies, with pirates laughing all the way to the bank.
Nigeria has been uncooperative in letting international fleets patrol inside their waters, preferring to handle their sovereign duties themselves, however inept their efforts may be. This is a disturbing development, as the inaction of local and international vessels has left many ships in the Gulf wide-open to attacks and seizures.
On the other side of the continent, the once-infamous waters off the coast of Somali have been significantly secured thanks to international cooperation and private security firms lending shippers armed guards for their vessels. Western nations were given the ability to patrol east African waters mostly because Somalia’s government was so destabilized that they lacked any ability to act whatsoever.
In the case of Nigeria, the government stands at a disappointing middle ground– prideful enough to refuse help, yet incapable of providing any long-term solutions to the problem. Because of the unwillingness to act or let others act for them, many local security experts have raised suspicions of some degree of either cooperation or complacency with piracy at the highest levels of Nigerian government.