12.03.2008: 1250LT: Enroute from Calabar to Port Harcourt, Nigeria.Sepaking of Nigerian pirates, here's a tale of some pirates having a bad day:
Armed pirates, in three speedboats boarded a tug, underway, kidnapped six Nigerian nationals and took them ashore. The kidnappers are demanding a ransom for the safe release of the hostages. The kidnappers claim to be the ‘protectors of the Bonny River’.
The Marine police unit attached to Cross River State Police Command has retrieved over 2,200 litres of stolen oil from pirates operating in the area.Small fish in the Nigerian oil theft circles, but...
The pirates who were suspected to be an illegal business trip, shuttling between Nigeria and Cameroon, bunkering oil, reportedly escaped into the creeks along the Calabar River, and this time, the marine police was on their heels.
The Police Public Relations Officer of the Command, ASP, Tom Adama Okpene, who linked the pirates to the spate of petroleum pipeline vandalisation in the area, said “our men are on their trail, and I can assure the public that very soon, the pirates and their accomplices will be arrested”.
Consequently, the pirates were intercepted and the boat with which they were conveying the stolen oil was arrested, even as the pirates plunged into the sea, leaving their loot behind.
It was gathered that the boat was arrested in the early hours of the morning as the pirates were allegedly heading towards the Republic of Cameroun.
The boat, fitted with a 40 HP engine was arrested near petroleum pipelines that run from the jetty to the NNPC depot in Calabar.
According to the Police, the pirates allegedly connived with some petroleum pipeline vandals resident in the state capital, to break the pipes along the Ekorinim axis of the Calabar metropolis.
The PPRO said the boat was apprehended at about 3am, “ as the pirates who sighted the marine patrol team, suddenly abandoned the boat and dived into the sea”.
Continuing, he said, “as the pirates sighted the marine policemen, they suddenly abandoned the boat, took a plunge into the sea and escaped into the creeks”.
The boat has been impounded at the marina police station in Calabar.
Inside the boat were over 100 containers, which included sixteen large drums of 100 litres each, about 50 jerry cans of 75 litres content each as well as many other containers, including empty ones.
UDPATE2: More fun and frivolity in Nigerian waters reported here:
A fierce gun battle was reported, yesterday, between naval men of the JTF in the Niger Delta and suspected sea pirates along the Bonny Channel in Rivers State .Not much "spin" by the government forces?
Although the JTF Spokesman, Lt. Col. Sagir Musa, said the force could not confirm whether there were casualties on the side of the bandits, he said none of the naval men was wounded “because they overwhelmed the pirates.”
A security source told Vanguard that elements of Sector Four command of the JTF were on routine patrol along the channel to check the incessant activities of pirates and kidnappers when they ran into the gunmen
The source disclosed that the soldiers were sailing in a gunboat when “they suddenly ran into the heavily armed gunmen in two engine boats” speeding towards the gunboat.
Frightened by the unexpected meeting with the gunboat, the bandits “opened fire on the soldiers, who also quickly responded and the men managed to fire more shots as they escaped.”
UPDATE3: The Christian Science Monitor does Nigerian pirates here:
Nigeria has seen a massive rise in pirate attacks in recent weeks, with officials linking the upsurge to a general decline in security throughout the country's oil-rich Niger Delta region. While piracy has long been a problem off the coast of Somalia in East Africa, the recent attacks here in West Africa mark a new trend that could further cripple the economy of one of the world's poorest regions.
"Before, it was maybe one death every two months or once in a fortnight, but five deaths in five different locations and five different companies?" says Paul Kirubakaran, managing director of the Seabless fishing company, whose boats are among the 200 shrimp and fishing vessels docked in Nigeria's commercial capital since a strike began in January. "When people are killed like this how can we ask them to go back [to sea]?"
Trawler fishermen in the area suffered more than 100 pirate attacks in 2007, and a spike of 50 attacks in the first month of 2008 that culminated in five crew deaths in one day, maritime officials say.
n February, the US Navy ran a maritime surveillance exercise for members of the Nigerian Navy and Air Force to tackle illegal operations, including piracy, in Nigerian waters. The US receives about one-fifth of its oil imports from the Gulf of Guinea, which includes Nigerian territorial waters, and the US Navy has been increasing its presence in the region for several years, according to the US State Department.
The Nigerian government has set up a special subcommittee to find a solution to the pirate problem and says it will add 15 patrol boats. "The government has put additional security in place but has not detailed some of those measures," says Yemi Nelson, the assistant director of press in the Ministry of Agriculture, which covers fisheries.
However, many Nigerian pirates are frequently better equipped than some Naval patrols. The pirates use machine-gun mounted speedboats and carry semi-automatic machine guns. They use hand-held radios so several boats can stage coordinated attacks. They pride themselves on having something of a military flair, often wearing military camouflage or giving their leaders titles like "General."