Pirates in Niger Delta
Mr Greg Ogbuifor, president of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria SOAN has attributed the incessant piracy attacks and other criminalities in the nation’s territorial waters especially in the Gulf of Guinea to the neglect of the Niger Delta region by the Nigerian government.
Ogbulafor listed the areas of such neglect to include neglect of the host communities from where crude oil is being exploited and exported leaving such communities with destroyed environment and ecosystems such as farmlands, polluted rivers and creeks.
Another aspect of the neglect is the abandonment of cadets who have undergone maritime training but are unable to complete their sea time and others who have completed sea time but are unable to secure jobs.
Polluted & Neglected Environment in Niger Delta
According to Ogbulafor, these youths who are frustrated in their communities and who don’t have meaningful jobs resort to self-help by getting into criminal activities such as piracy, kidnapping, illegal oil bunkering and pipeline vandalism for survival.
He insisted that since the environment of these youths has been destroyed by crude oil exploitation over the years and government is the direct beneficiary of the proceeds of crude oil there is a need for the government to take care of the indigenes of these communities.
“Piracy is a problem. We have been talking about it with the government. Those children in that area have polluted waters due to oil exploitation. There are taking resources out of the place; there is nothing for them to look forward to doing. Out of frustration, some of them start carrying guns and start to shoot people.
Naval Patrol Vessels
“They will not be able to get all of them away from that improper profession so you will be able to attract a few. We are sitting down here but look at the flood diversity of the Niger Delta,” he noted.
Other stakeholders in the Nigerian maritime industry also lamented the increase pirates’ activities and other sea robberies in the Niger Delta. They called on the federal government to step up security in the coastal areas of the country so as to save the maritime industry from imminent collapse due to insecurity and casualties suffered in the hands of hoodlums who have virtually taken over the sea and territorial waters of Nigeria.