The high rate of unemployment among youths in the coastal areas has been identified as the major cause of piracy along the country’s water ways.
Ogene Akpiri, a seafarer on board M/V Joan, who also was a victim of pirate attack recently, made the observation during an interview with The Tide at Onne Port on Saturday.
According to him, the practice of piracy is still rampant because there are no jobs for able-bodied young men especially those in the coastal areas, so they now find escape in piracy.
“I can only tie it to lack of job opportunities for citizens and that increases the propensity /or their doing unscrupulous things to survive”.
He noted that there are many young men 32, 34, 38 who can’t marry because they have no jobs and they look at their lives no hope, so the only alternative is to look for other means of survival.
“Lets not pretend that we have a bunch of criminals who are pirates out there, but most of them would have been better of if opportunities were created for them. I am not saying it is a good reason to go into piracy. Children are being chimed out of the university every day with no job opportunities, what we are saying is creating employment opportunities and everybody will be happy. If you have vibrant maritime industry you will not have enough people to pollute the industry and that will encourage all those pirates who have become expert mariners to cue in, in the industry as professionals”.
It would be recalled that the Minister of Interior, Captain Emmanuel Iheanacho, had in one of his public statements, said that what is happening in the Nigerian waters can not be defined as piracy in the real sense of it. He added that it is the illegal activities of ship owners off Nigerian waters and porous Nigeria waters that attract criminals to them who waylay them and steal cash and valuables and go away without asking for ransom. He also said the criminalities against them may not be unconnected with the militancy in the Niger Delta region.
He expressed confidence that piracy on any form of criminality against ships in the Nigeria waters would drastically reduce this year in view of the peace which is returning to the region.
He also said that some of the piracy incidents attributed to Nigeria were carried out in the waters of other west/central Africa countries, adding that his fear had always been that criminality may have been the handiwork of foreigners, who were serving the interest of foreign ship owners who want to continue to charge discriminatory tariff on Nigerian bound cargo because they have no competition from Nigerian entrepreneurs.
He said, however, that government is determined to rip the criminal act in the bud this year, saying safety of navigation and security of life and property in the Nigerian waters and the ports is of prime importance to government this year.
Five Abducted MWUN Members, Three Others Regain Freedom
The five kidnapped members of the Nigeria Maritime Workers Union, (MWUN) in Rivers State have regained their freedom from their captors.
The five maritime workers were released along with three other passengers that were kidnapped along Kula-Abonema waterway in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State, last Monday.
.Their release was secured on Saturday evening sequel to the intervention of the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Bashir Jamoh, and other stakeholders.
Jamoh broke the news of their unconditional release in a statement to newsmen on Saturday night.
The NIMASA boss, shortly after the release of the abducted five, informed the President-General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju, at about 8:15 pm through a telephone conversation.
The abductees, Jamoh said, were all in good physical condition, saying the MWUN President General would provide a detailed report on the incidents surrounding the abduction early last week.
Jamoh did not, however, disclose if any ransom was paid to the abductors before securing their release.
The Tide recalls that the eight victims, including five MWUN members, were whisked away by gunmen suspected to be sea robbers while travelling from Kula in Akuku-Toru Local Government Area of Rivers State to Port Harcourt for a meeting.
The hoodlums were said to have demanded for N10 million ransom to free their victims.
But the MWUN leadership in Rivers State vowed not to pay any ransom to the abductors of its five staff, and instead demanded for their unconditional release.
The union chairman, Comrade Jonah Jumbo, had given a 30-day ultimatum to the kidnappers to free its members, failure of which, the union would shut down all maritime operations in the state.
“In one month, if they are not released, we will shut down all maritime operations in the state”, he had threatened.
By: Chinedu Wosu
IMO Vows To Stop Piracy In GoG
A global agency, International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has vowed to stop the menace of piracy and other criminal activities in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG).
The organisation noted that the continuous activities of piracy and armed robbery along the Gulf of Guinea were capable of crippling international shipping in the region.
According to IMO, piracy and other criminal activities along GoG damage the world economy and trade.
The Secretary-General of IMO, Kitack Lim, who stated this during the inaugural meeting of the Gulf of Guinea Maritime Collaboration Forum and Shared Awareness and De-confliction conference (GoG-MCF/SHADE, said, he was encouraged by the establishment of the forum.
“This situation has continued for several years and these illegal acts must be stopped. Now is the time to make real progress”, he said
Lim said IMO would continue to support training and other capacity-building activities for Gulf of Guinea states as well as assist cooperative regional efforts under the framework of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct.
The Yaounde Code of Conduct is an agreement signed by countries in the region that commit to working to repress piracy and armed robbery against shipping activities.
The secretary insisted that the security situation in the GoG remains at the top of the organisation.
He said that the GoG-MCF/SHADE was aimed at facilitating shared awareness and de-conflicting activities in the region by linking all relevant stakeholders to advanced and coordinated maritime security activities.
Lim acknowledged the positive strides in the area of inter-agency cooperation and response on a regional and international level, especially the anti-piracy legislation passed by Ghana, recent convictions of pirates in Togo, and Nigeria’s Deep Blue Project.
“At the request of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Gulf of Guinea Commission, IMO continues to work with the ICC Yaoundé, including supporting a series of regional expert level online meetings aiming to assess the implementation and sustainability of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct and to provide recommendations to the three organisations”, he said.
Seafarers Lament Effects Of Covid-19
The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) says the impact of Coronavirus pandemic, also known as Covid-19, in the country is negatively affecting the welfare of seafarers in the sector.
The union noted that the pandemic had created huge unemployment and forced investors to abandon the maritime sector.
The newly elected treasurer of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) in Rivers State, Comrade Jonah Jumbo, disclosed this during an interview with The Tide.
Comrade Jonah regretted that the pandemic had crippled maritime activities globally, saying most ship owners and management have abandoned shipping activities, thereby affecting the welfare of seafarers.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic had created unemployment amongst crew members in the sector as ship owners refused to engage certified seafarers on board vessels.
According to him, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced many investors in the marine sector to abandon their business as most sea vessels were stranded on the sea for months without discharging their cargoes.
“The impact of the pandemic is hitting harder on the welfare of the seafarers and their families.
“Investors in the marine sectors are no longer coming into the country to invest due to the global pandemic”, he said.
Jonah whose maritime activities span through eight states including Lagos, Kogi, Ondo, Bayelsa, Rivers, Cross Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Delta, called for prayers to salvage the maritime sector.
By: Chinedu Wosu
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