Analysts have predicted an increase in piracy incidences in Nigeria after the presidential elections were postponed last week.
The military said it was unable to assure security in its fight against militant Islamist group Boko Haram.
There are growing suspicions surrounding the credibility of the elections and fears that ransoms are being used to fund political campaigns, leading to an anticipated increase in offshore attacks. General elections are expected to take place in Togo, Burkina Faso, and the Ivory Coast this year, but its Nigeria’s elections that pose the greatest threat.
“Pirate attacks are likely to rise before and after the forthcoming elections,” Cassie Blombaum, intelligence analyst at Guardian Global Resources Ltd, told IHS Maritime.
“Some politicians have been accused of receiving money from armed groups that have links to piracy and kidnapping,” she said.
Attacks in the Gulf of Guinea continued to be varied throughout 2014, with reports of kidnappings as well as hijacking and cargo theft as opposed to traditionally being only cargo theft.
“In the local news, you hear about people stealing oil inland but then you never hear about the people that were involved or if they were prosecuted or put in jail,” she said.
“There have been reported kidnappings near offshore oil platforms but then you never hear about them again, and quite probably ransoms are being paid,” she added.
However, looking widely at the returns from piracy, if recent falls in oil prices continue, there’s every possibility that attacks could decrease.
“There is a link to the price of oil falling. We have seen less attacks for the last month and half,” said Blombaum.
In the meantime, onboard security remains a challenge and seafearers are advised to continue to adopt best practices.
A move towards allowing security aboard vessels doesn’t seem likely with rules and regulation still governed by individual sovereign states in the region.
The Nigerian Navy state that marine police have no authority in the country’s exclusive economic zone or its territorial waters. More specifically, the Navy claims the marine police only have jurisdiction over Nigeria’s riverine locations and ports located two nautical miles past the breakwaters.