In a rather unfortunate incident, coming off the heels of the labeling of Nigeria as the kidnap for ransom capital of the world, the country has once again embraced the limelight as a new center for piracy, with the number of attacks steadily increasing despite the government’s naval assets, authorities say.
In December 2012 alone, three commercial vessels were attacked by gunmen within six days, ransacking the ships and taking a total of nine crew members hostage, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
In 2012, there were 27 attacks off Nigeria’s coast, said the International Maritime Bureau. In 2011, there were 10 incidents of piracy and in 2010, 19.
This increasing trend draws comparison with Somalia, which is on the other side of the continent. But piracy dropped by two-thirds in that country last year, and Nigeria has, for Africa, impressive naval resources: warships, a frigate, a number of surveillance drones and 200 naval troops trained by the U.S. navy, as well as a 378-foot Coast Guard cutter.
However, the country has been limited in the use of those resources. The naval troops are pulling duty land-side, helping to fight terrorists in the desert north. Much of the rest of the equipment has been idled in various states of disrepair or a lack of funding frittered away by corruption.