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Pirates rule off Nigeria’s coast

Piracy off Nigerian waters is now a constant threat to international shipping. Two months ago, a 12 member crew on-board a Swiss ship were abducted in Bayelsa State. The ship, MC GLARUS with 19 crew members on-board was attacked as it was carrying wheat from Lagos to Port Harcourt, Rivers State. Pirates took yet another set of crew on-board a yet to be identified ship hostage few days after they freed the earlier 12 on October 28, 2018 according to Swiss Judicial authority.

Though negotiations between her owners, Masaoel Shipping, and the kidnappers led to the release of the crew consisting of seven Filipinos, a Bosnian, one Croatian, one Romanian, a Slovenian and one Ukrainian, it was yet to be acsertained amount how much money paid as ransom. Naval sources said the heavily armed pirates came out from Saint Nicolas waters, close to Agbara oil field in Bayelsa and swooped on the Swiss ship.

Some sailors told our correspondent in Apapa that there has been a sudden increase in private activities of pirates around the Bayelsa axis, entirety due to the absence of the navy. According to them, gun-welding youths invade fishing trawlers onboard speed boats. These attacks are currently a source of worry to international shipping companies. Insurance firms have consequently increased the premium on ship coming to Nigeria.

The International Maritime Bureau now regards our territorial waters as one of the most dangerous and has advised all ships accordingly. A report by International Chambers of Commerce said 87 piracy cases were reported in the first half of 2017 and that 63 crew members were taken hostage while 41 others were abducted from their ships. It said two of the victims died while three were seriously injured. At one Nigerian Navy blamed crews on board some trawlers and oil vessels for the attacks and ship owners to be wary of who they employ. Chief of the Naval Staff Vice Admiral Ibok Ete Ibas once said crew on board fishing trawlers are in the habit of selling off some of their catch at sea, saying the sailors refer to the catch as “Yama yama.”

He said, “How come some of them carry huge sums of money? Some crew on board fishing trawlers will sail close to the shore of a community, then call their contacts to come and buy what they have on board. The same applies to those working on oil vessels. They sell of what they call “ROB”. It is the money that pirates come to collect. They get information from these contacts.
Source: Daily Trust

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