A Professor at the Department of Economics, University of Lagos, Ndubuisi Nwokoma, says inter-agency collaboration and strengthening of the agency responsible for the monitoring and regulation of the maritime industry, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) will end the menace of sea piracy.
Nwokoma told Prime Business Africa that security agencies should be adequately equipped to tackle the problem.
“I believe that we can always look at this sea piracy problem, evaluate and re-evaluate whatever we are doing as a country that is creating loopholes for pirates to attack, then the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) must work very closely with security agencies that can help safeguard goods on the high sea,” he said.
According to Nwokoma, piracy is the highest form of crime on the sea.
“It is like stealing on the sea, it is hijacking a ship and stealing from them. Pirates move around in their own ship which serves as their vehicle on the sea. So if they see a target, they go after it, attack it, overpower the ship, then loot,” he added.
Sea piracy has been a source of concern to stakeholders in the mariitme industry as the country loses millions to vandalism, hijacking of vessels, and pirates operations annually.
In 2018, it was estimated that Nigeria lost about $26.3 billion to various forms of criminality, particularly piracy and sea robbery.
Between 2019 and 2020, there were reports of 35 actual and attempted piracy attacks in Nigeria, while the waters off the Nigerian coast experienced the highest number of piracy attacks globally in 2020.
The Federal Government unveiled $195 million worth of boats, vehicles, and aircraft to spearhead fight against piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
Responding to a question on the warship that Nigeria recently took delivery of, Nwokoma said “security agencies need to be equipped, you can not send somebody to go and fight armed robbers without arms.”
He stated that the warship would add value to the fight against piracy.
“If the ship patrols the areas where cargos carrying goods are, pirates will caution themselves from any move that could put them in danger,” he added.
According to him, piracy has implications for the economy as funds have been committed by importers to their goods.
“So, whether it is a government cargo or private sector cargo, that is immaterial. Imagine that a ship was heading for Lagos or Port Harcourt, fully loaded with goods worth billions or millions, pirates could hijack it and take it to Cameroon or Gabon or somewhere else. Even before it gets to Lagos they can divert it to Liberia, that is what pirates do,” he said.
The Federal Government recently committed itself to a range of measures to control of Nigeria’s territorial waters and exclusive economic zone from pirates.