Nigeria Attack Kills 4

An alarming report emerged from Nigeria yesterday: 4-5 individuals, including security personnel, killed in attack on vessel carrying Oil&Gas sector employees on the River Niger.

Nigeria Attack Kills 4

Another alarming report emerged from Nigeria yesterday: 4-5 individuals, including security personnel, had been killed during an attack on a vessel carrying Oil & Gas sector employees on the River Niger.

At the time of release the report had as then to be verified, however, the dynamics of the attack – well armed gunmen in a speedboat, were perfectly credible.

It now transpires that the attack took place and was the third in less than a week.

In the very early hours of 4th February a chemical tanker, the MT Pyxis Delta came under attack by gunmen – possibly pirates, in the Lagos anchorage. Weapons were fired at the vessel and one crewmember was injured.

A few days earlier, on 29th January, a passenger boat was attacked on the Brass River. Reports state that “…armed pirates attacked the vessel,” and that “…one individual was killed.” It appears that the individual in question was the vessel’s captain whose body was found in the river a few days later.

The attack on the passenger boat was the second against similar vessels on the Brass River during January.

Is the situation in Nigeria going from bad to worse or is it a case of more attacks being reported?

According Lee Kirton, Global Maritime Manager at LGS Nigeria, “The real issue is not calculating if the security situation is getting worse and if so by how much, the real issue is understanding exactly what’s happening and implementing the most appropriate mitigation and protection strategies.

One thing is absolutely certain, the situation isn’t getting any better so our job is to assist clients by treating each task in accordance to our knowledge of the current situation and the potential for worst case scenarios.

Kirton explained that, “We are frontline operators so we tend not to hide behind generic statements or generalisations, our clients ask us to guarantee the security of their employees, consultants and assets and the only way we can do that is by closely monitoring developments and situations. Our detailed knowledge of what is happening and what to expect allows us to address threats by putting appropriate countermeasures into place.

LGS Nigeria‘s Maritime Manager added that, “We have a longstanding relationship with the Nigerian authorities that allows us to work closely with Police and Military forces. We work together both on and offshore and the results of this collaboration is a service that guarantees clients the best possible form of protection.

We gather information from a number of sources and recognise the importance of identifying trends and changes to threat levels and types, it is this understanding of the situation and our close relationship with the authorities that allows us to define the countermeasures and protective services that our clients rely on.”

Most security analysts would agree that the situation in West Africa, and in particular in Nigeria, is a cause of particular concern.

According to Danielle Dix, West Africa Security Analyst at Dryad Maritime Intelligence; “The threat to commercial traffic within the Gulf of Guinea, particularly Nigerian territorial waters is multifaceted. In order to address the risks, security protocols must be comprehensive and well-rehearsed, in line with industry standards such as BMP 4 and be put in place prior to transiting the high risk areas.

Kidnap and petty theft are the most common trends within Nigerian territorial waters at the present time however there is also precedent of refined product theft from tankers, what Dryad describes as an Extended Duration Robbery.

In Dix’s opinion; “While there is not a significant difference in the number of attacks recorded thus far 2013 in comparison to 2012 statistics, recent incidents demonstrate that the kidnap of crew who are then held to ransom is currently the preferred crime for groups operating in this sea area. Passenger craft, fishing vessels, tugs and even an oil tanker, the MT SP Brussels, have been targeted both offshore and whilst transiting the Niger Delta creek system in the past two months for this purpose.

The incident referenced above is not the first case in which fatalities have been recorded. The presence of an armed security team whether military or privately contracted is not necessarily an automatic deterrent for determined and well-armed criminal parties. Mariners are advised that secondary accounts of the incident referenced above also allege that two crew members from the vessel were kidnapped during the course of the attack.”

As both LGS Nigeria and Dryad Maritime Intelligence point out, the threats to commercial maritime operations in Nigerian territorial waters are multifaceted and the only way to successfully address the risks are the implementation of comprehensive, well-rehearsed security protocols.


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