As observers will be aware, reports from Nigeria are few and far between. Analysts believe that up to 60 per cent of incidents in the Gulf of Guinea may go unreported, and Nigeria remains the hot spot for pirate activity and maritime crime in the region.¬†
Recent government reports suggest that the country loses $35 million a day to oil theft, demonstrating how lucrative the illegal black market in oil is and just how hard stamping the crime out is. Unfortunately, given the lack of official reporting in the region, obtaining an accurate picture of piracy and maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea is far more difficult than in other parts of the world, unless the authorities score a “win”, which is the case here.
According to media reports, the Joint Task Force (JTF) engaged pirates in a gun battle at Robot creeks in Nembe, Bayelsa state yesterday, June 24th.
Lt. Colonel Mustapha Anka, JTF media coordinator, told the News Agency of Nigeria that his men were confronted by around 30 pirates armed with AK-47 assault rifles in two speedboats. His men returned fire and, during the gunfight, a soldier and two boat operators were injured and three suspected pirates killed.
Additionally, the Lt. Col. said that his men raided and destroyed an illegal oil bunkering site at Okpoko Creek in Warri South. During that operation the JTF seized jerry cans, pumping machines and seven speed boats as well as nine Cotonou boats containing stolen crude, arresting five suspects during the incident.
The same group of troops also destroyed four boats containing stolen crude and refined Automated Gas Oil (AGO) at Baragbene in southern Ijaw as well as two fuel dumps and a Cotonou boat.
Such announcements from senior officials are not unusual in Nigeria, where regional commanders like to keep their profiles and operations in the media as proof that their efforts are paying off. However,¬†it’s hard to get away from that figure of $35 million a day lost in stolen oil, regardless of media spin.