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  • Writer's picturePalaemon Maritime

5 Things Nigerian Pirate Attacks Have in Common

Piracy represents a worldwide crime that obstructs the free passage of ships carrying people and cargo, resulting in economic consequences. The culprits are often well-armed, with sophisticated weaponry capable of hijacking a vessel or boats. The unpredictable pirate assaults around the Gulf of Guinea are wreaking havoc on Nigerian maritime operations. The Gulf of Guinea is one of the most hazardous places for piracy, accounting for 32% of all documented piracy occurrences worldwide and 50% of crew abduction instances. Attacks on commercial ships are so frequent in the region that they are regarded as a continual concern for anybody operating there.

1. Seasonality of Attacks

Piracy attacks continue to primarily follow a seasonal pattern, with most attacks occurring between November and April due to ideal weather conditions. Examining maritime piracy incidents offshore by month during the last years reveals that also months during which foreign military presence offshore may have acted as a deterrent to assaults.

Ransom payments are anticipated to be between $250,000 and $300,000 per group.

2. Hijacking – the Focus Of Most Piracy Attacks

Numerous examples of pirate hijacking include kidnapping a crew or persons for ransom, putting ship owners and controlling authorities in uncomfortable positions. In the Gulf of Guinea, cargo ships were firstly targeted, especially when oil was trading at more than $100 per barrel. When the oil price fell, the crew became more valuable than the oil.

3. When Hijacking Becomes Abduction

When pirates board a vessel to steal merchandise, they are often anxious about remaining on deck – where they would be an obvious target for security personnel assisting the seized ship – which results in pirates abducting crew and using them as human shields. This implies that the hijacking becomes a case of abduction, even if the pirates' primary objective was merchandise theft with kidnapping as a secondary purpose.

4. Enhancement of Operations

Pirate groups have made significant strides in structure and competence in their kidnap for ransom activities in recent years. Actual, genuine camps are being established near the Cameroonian border — someone has definitely invested in these new camp 'infrastructures.'" Additionally, pirate organisations' modus operandi has altered from nearly entirely night-time operations to around 50% of attacks occurring during the day and 50% occurring at night.

5. Growing Ransoms

In recent years, the value of ransom payments has also increased. According to a UNODC report, this is shown by several examples from 2008, as the initial ransom demand for kidnapped personnel was between twenty and twenty-five million nairas ($100,000-$150,000). However, the group's ultimate arrangement was worth about five to six million Naira ($25,000). In 2016, the agreed-upon sum for one set of captives increased to around $125,000-$150,000. Since then, a significant rise has been recorded, with 2020 prices anticipated to be between $250,000 and $300,000 per group. There has been a movement away from ransom payments made in Nigerian Naira and toward ransom payments made in US dollars with this development.

While COVID-19 has distracted the world's attention, piracy and armed assaults on ship crews continue to be severe problems that need a coordinated global intervention at the highest level.

.What trends have you noticed? Is there any reason why ransom payments might go down? Comment below

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