US Navy Vessel Arrives in Lagos

On Saturday, August 7, 2021, the US Navy vessel USS Hershel “Woody” Williams arrived in Nigeria’s commercial capital city of Lagos.

The vessel is part of the U.S. government’s support to help combat piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

The Captain of the ship Captain Chad Graham had this to say – “We’re here to train and work with the Nigerian Navy on anti-piracy, tactics, techniques, and procedures.”

You can read more here –

At Arete, we are constantly monitoring the maritime space to provide you with the latest updates and services. You can click here to get in touch with us.

Nigeria Quits MOWCA

News broke yesterday that Nigeria has pulled out of the Maritime Organization for West and Central Africa (MOWCA). The Nigerian contingent alleged that there was a disregard for the rules of procedure regarding the suitability of candidates nominated for the position of the Secretary-General of the organisation.

While there have been reports that the country pulled out after losing the elections, in a statement signed by Eric Ojiekwe, Director of Press, Federal Ministry of Transportation, the representatives for Nigeria said: “It is sad and most depressing given Nigeria’s ardent and consistent support for MOWCA and its activities, that Nigeria as a nation must take a stand against the promotion of illegality, disrespect for the rule of law and contravention of the rules regarding the election of the Secretary General of MOWCA.

“Nigeria draws the attention of the General Assembly to the comment of MOWCA as presented by MOWCA secretariat in the annotated Agenda circulated this week to the Committee of Experts meeting, which confirmed that Nigeria is the only country that met the age eligibility criteria that candidates must not exceed 55 years.

“The candidate nominated by Nigeria was 55 years as at when nominations closed in 2020, while the candidate of Guinea was 60 years old and that of Benin was 62 years old.”

You can read more here

At Arete, we are constantly monitoring the maritime space to provide you with the latest updates and services. You can click here to get in touch with us.

Arresting Nnamdi Kanu; Solution or Catalyst?

The arrest, detention and extradition of the titular head of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, has focussed the minds of Nigerians, and to a lesser extent the international community on the issue of partition in Nigeria.  The arrest was allegedly carried out by Kenyan security operatives at the behest of the Nigerian government.  He was subsequently flown on a private jet to Abuja where he was taken into detention by the Department of State Security.  Kanu has been characterised as a terrorist by the Nigerian Government and remains in detention in Nigeria.

Since his trial was delayed on 26 July, the flow of rhetoric from his supporters has increased in volume and its tone has become more threatening.  Kanu’s status as a British citizen has also drawn the UK High Commission into the issue.  A large UK law firm has also been commissioned to represent him as it has been alleged that his removal from Kenya to Nigeria amounts to an extraordinary rendition, which is illegal under British law, the protection of which Kanu enjoys.

Ndigbo commentators have been busy, with the Association of South-East Towns Union (ASETU) issuing a long statement on 27 July to the effect that the arrest and detention of Kanu will not address the driver behind the movement for independence as Kanu is only a representative of the anger felt by the Ndigbo.  It claims that the Ndigbo people are discriminated against, and the discrimination has deepened under the present government.  The following day, another statement was issued by a Kuwait based spokesperson for the IPOB calling on the Federal Government to released Kanu immediately without further charge.  It gave a deadline of 08 August, following which, if Kanu remains in detention, the South-East political region of Nigeria will face a total shutdown every Monday from 06:00 am until 18:00 pm with effect from 09 August until such time as Kanu is released.

Street-level chatter among ordinary Igbo people is somewhat more ambiguous, with popular opinion seemingly divided.  Many feel that Kanu is a troublemaker who has brought an unwelcome surge of security forces activity into their homeland.  They point out the impact that has on personal freedoms and the ability to trade in the established manner.  Some feel that he is nothing more than a gangster who is seeking to empower himself.  Others, however, are vociferously supportive of Kanu and the secessionist aims of IPOB.

In the short term, it is likely that the shut-down protests will happen and be largely supported, albeit reluctantly in many cases.  People must earn money to feed and educate their children and any regular or protracted interruption to commerce will divide opinion quite quickly.  There is likely to be an increase in the activity of the so-called ‘unknown gunmen’, which will see security forces, and police stations, in particular, being targeted.  This could trigger a very strong reaction from the security forces, leading to further recriminations among the chatterati and an increase in support for IPOB.

The knock-on effects for business are likely to be indirect.  However, workers being absent from their positions on Mondays will also have an impact on most commercial operations.  Additionally, the heavy presence of security forces will likely render movement on the region’s roads more challenging and time-consuming, with an attendant risk of travellers being caught up in attacks on security forces.

In the long term, it is certain that the arrest, detention and trial of Kanu will not force IPOB to disband and abandon its ambitions.  If anything, it is likely that the movement will gain strength and support, with international attention becoming more focussed on those centrifugal forces that are also driving separatist movements in other parts of the country.

9 Pirates and the first of a kind trial in West Africa

In a revolutionary court ruling on Monday this week (5th July), a Togo court convicted and sentenced nine individuals to between 12 and 20 years in jail for maritime piracy. The incident took place in 2019, when the pirates boarded a small tanker, robbing the crew before being apprehended by the Togo Navy.

What does this landmark ruling mean for West African maritime security? How might it make the waters safer?

The conviction and associated custodial sentences of 9 pirates in a Togo court this week was a true milestone in the fight against piracy in the Gulf of Guinea region. The incident, which occurred on 11 May 2019 and saw the tanker G Dona 1 boarded, temporarily hijacked and robbed, has been well documented. This analysis will concentrate on the background to the court case and its overall impact on the region.

The case comes in the wake of changes to the Togolese Penal Code which in 2015 was amended to include acts of piracy at sea. The pirates, which included seven Nigerians, two Togolese and a Ghanaian, were arrested in 2019. The prosecution was brought by the present government – elected only last year – in what was possibly a strategic political message to highlight its credentials and intent with regards to countering crime both ashore and at sea.

Perhaps the most prominent aspect of the prosecution is that it happened in a country that hitherto has lacked any regional prominence in comparison to its neighbours such as Nigeria and Ghana. That the Togolese Navy managed to apprehend the perpetrators of the crime and bring them to justice is a clear example of what can be achieved if regional navies respond rapidly to intelligence and emerging situations. It has set a new benchmark for naval and coastguard operations, and it now behooves the better-resourced navies of other nations to emulate the performance of the tiny Togolese Navy.

Impact on Regional Piracy?

There are numerous maritime security arrangements and agreements in place in the region, including the declaration in early June 2021 signed by hundreds of international shipping companies, maritime organisations, and maritime service providers (See our 07 June Deep Dive – The Gulf of Guinea Declaration on Suppression of Piracy here). Most recently, on 11 July 2021, the Nigerian and Ghanaian navies agreed to integrate their intelligence and surveillance efforts, as well as develop personnel in the use of those systems, and also agreed to adopt a set of joint Standard Operating Procedures that would be adopted by both navies.

This intended collaboration between the two most powerful navies in the region should, if implemented diligently and efficiently, generate a positive impact and drive down incident rates – at least in coastal waters. There have also been numerous equipment procurement programs in several GoG nations, but all these efforts and good intentions have thus far failed to generate any significant lowering of risk to shipping and mariners in the region. The pirates have evolved and shifted their operations into deep water, thus avoiding the systems and procedures adopted by the littoral states, which have been designed to counter maritime criminal activity in territorial waters.

This case represents a paradigm shift though, as it has seen hefty sentences handed down to criminals who would expect only short jail terms at most in other regional states. The other key aspect of the case is that the group’s leader, a Nigerian going by the name of Peter Paul, was sentenced to 15 years in jail. Typically, in Nigeria – which is widely seen as the epicentre of pirate activity in the region – the top men in such cases escape custodial sentences and the junior members of the gang receive short prison terms. The length of the sentences handed down by the Togolese court will almost certainly have surprised the pirate gangs and their prominent backers in Nigeria.

It is possible that smaller countries such as Benin, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon will take note of the steadfast position adopted by the Togolese courts leading to potentially meaningful sentences being handed down by these State’s courts in the future.

Of the other regional powers, Cameroon has already successfully previously defeated a wave of piracy thought to have originated from Nigerian waters. Their response to that wave was highly kinetic and most pirate gangs that entered Cameroonian waters met their end when confronted by the Battalion d’Intervention Rapide (BIR). That past approach has meant that very few acts of piracy have occurred in Cameroonian waters since and it is likely they will continue to adopt such strategies in the future.

Like Togo, Ghana went through an election last year and its current government is determined to improve its security both onshore and at sea. It is likely therefore that we will see a robust response in the event that any maritime criminals or pirates are caught by Ghanaian security forces in the near future.

Ivory Coast is also stabilising after years of political uncertainty and social unrest; however, it is too early to say whether the Ivorian government will have the time or the will to address the problem of piracy in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

This leaves the major economy and largest populated state in the region – Nigeria. President Buhari officially launched the Deep Blue Project to counter piracy in mid-June, which is hoped, and expected, to have a significant impact on improving security in Nigerian waters (See our comments on the Deep Blue Project launch 10th June here). Hopes and expectations aside, with the insurgency continuing in the north-east of the country, the enduring problem of Biafran secession bubbling away in the South and the emerging threat of a similar movement in Yorubaland, the government has duelling security priorities at present.

Nevertheless, even in the event that the Nigerian Navy and the newly launched Deep Blue Project have an immediate effect leading to prison cells full of detained pirates, there remains a huge question mark over the reliability and robustness of the Nigerian judicial system to undertake follow through action.

The above aside, and looking to the future, it is hoped the region will see more successful prosecutions of pirates as other regional states up their game in the face of the demonstration of capability and intent by the Togolese courts. As usual there will need to be a degree of both local (peer) pressure, as well international pressure, involved to ensure the economic protection of all states in the region from the scourge of regional piracy.

You can read the full article on the sentencing here


Travel Update: South African Arrivals into Nigeria

Last week the Nigerian Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 announced that it was updating the provisional quarantine protocol and entry requirements for travellers arriving into Nigeria from South Africa from 2nd July 2021.

In the images below we have highlighted the vital points of this communique and will continue to update with any changes.

Please email us at for any assistance you may need with travel planning in the coming weeks and months #AreteSOS

Lloyd’s Market Association on War Risk Insurance

Following our post yesterday on war risk insurance, the following response has been issued by Lloyd’s Market Association. Read here

Day of the Seafarer

June 25th is observed as the Day of the Seafarer. Amidst the pandemic, Seafarers have found themselves both on the front line of the global response and subject to difficult working conditions surrounding uncertainties and difficulties around port-access, re-supply, crew changeovers, repatriation etc. #FairFuture4Seafarers.
The 2021 campaign is Fair Future for Seafarers. The celebration is focused on urging governments to recognize seafarers as key workers and ease travel restrictions for them to facilitate crew changes.

The campaign will discuss issues that will still be relevant to seafarers after the pandemic #FairFuture4Seafarers.
The IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said in his address celebrating the day – “Seafarers have gone beyond the call of duty working tirelessly to keep global trade flowing. IMO & our partners are doing our part to support seafarers and make sure that they are given rights and protection of key workers.”

At Arete, we want to use this opportunity to encourage governments and IMO to support seafarers amid the pandemic and we hope for a Fair Future for Seafarers. #FairFuture4Seafarers

War Risk Insurance

As reported earlier this week, NIMASA is calling on the international community to rethink the level of war risk insurance for vessels calling Nigeria. According to the Punch newspaper, the Director-General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, has expressed worry over the persisting war-risk insurance on Nigerian bound cargoes, calling for its removal.

Dr. Bashir said – “Since the deployment of the deep blue project assets in February, there has been a steady decline in piracy attacks in the Nigerian waters on a monthly basis. We, therefore, invite the international shipping community to rethink the issue of war risk insurance on cargo bound for our ports. Nigeria has demonstrated enough commitment towards tackling maritime insecurity to avert such premium burden.”

Read the full article here

What is war risk insurance?

It is an insurance policy that provides financial protection to the policyholder against losses from events such as invasions, insurrections, riots, strikes, revolutions, military coups, and terrorism. The premium varies based on the expected stability of the countries to which the vessel will travel.

How does it affect Nigeria’s maritime trade?

Due to the proliferation of piracy, hijacking and invasion affecting cargo coming into Nigerian ports, insurance companies have over time increased the premium being paid by operators in the Nigerian maritime space. The cost of this increasing premium negatively affects the cost of maritime trade in Nigeria.

According to the non-profit Oceans Beyond Piracy’s 2020 report, the total cost of additional war risk area premiums incurred by Nigeria-bound ships transiting the Gulf was $55.5m in 2020 alone.

Thus far, there has been no response from insurers or the international community to this request, but we will follow this story in the coming weeks and months following the official launch of the Deep Blue Project earlier this month (see our coverage here).

At Arete, we offer mitigation services for maritime and offshore clients such as Risk Management Consultants (RMCs) embarked on clients’ vessels and platforms offshore to coordinate Security Patrol Vessel (SPV) activity, undertake incident response & crisis management, train and drill the crews in counter-piracy, as well as provide Security Patrol Vessel (SPV) escorts throughout Nigerian waters.

Email us at

The Deep Blue Project in Nigeria – Launch Update

Arete closely followed the launch of the Deep Blue Project in Nigeria last week notably how the initiative will affect offshore operations for businesses and individuals.

At the ceremony last Thursday, Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh said “With the deployment of the assets of the Deep Blue Project, we are entering another level of national security designed for total spectrum maritime security and better domain awareness using some of the latest technology. This effort to secure our waters will give Nigerians more leverage to harness the enormous resources of our maritime environment and aid the drive towards economic diversification.”

Here are some of the project assets that were unveiled as a part of the launch:

2 Special Mission Vessels (the DB Lagos and DB Abuja, built by Shipyard De Hoop in the Netherlands)
3 AW109 helicopters
16 Proforce armored vehicles
2 Cessna Citation CJ3 maritime surveillance aircraft,
17 De Haas Maasluis DHM1050 interceptor boats
4 Tekever AR3 unmanned aerial vehicles
A C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence) Operations Centre
600 personnel strong Maritime Security Unit (MSU)

In the #AreteDeepDive article published last week, our in-house expert noted that – “Local Navies’ ability to respond to incidents has also been undermined by a lack of technological architecture to support the Command, Control, Communication and Intelligence (C4I) functions that are critical for a timely and effective response.”

Clearly, NIMASA has accounted for C4I as part of their Deep Blue Project which is encouraging, however as mentioned in the deep dive, this project, while a step in the right direction, should not be seen as a quick fix for the ongoing maritime issues the region has seen in recent years.

Overall the launch was welcomed by many stakeholders in the industry, not least the ICS and BIMCO, and Arete will continue to monitor the rollout of the project from our Joint Operations Centre (JOC) in Lagos, Nigeria.
#security #safety

Deep Blue Project – Launch Ceremony

Today, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) inaugurates the long-awaited Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure – more commonly known as the Deep Blue project. The project is designed to generate an integrated surveillance and response capability that will bring together coastal surveillance, airborne surveillance, command and control centres, and response vessels. The project will impart a significant uplift to Nigeria’s ability to combat a range of maritime criminal activities including piracy, armed robbery, kidnapping, trafficking of people, smuggling of drugs and other contraband, oil theft, illicit waste dumping, and illegal and unregulated fishing.

This is a positive step for Maritime Security in the region. Mounting pressure from the shipping industry and international maritime organisations have highlighted the parlous state of security in the Gulf of Guinea, as discussed in our most recent #AreteDeepdive. You can read it here

It is anticipated that the Deep Blue Project will be a major elevation in capability and allow Nigeria to mount coordinated interdiction and response operations in support of international shipping and the offshore industry.

However, the Deep Blue Project should not be expected to be a quick fix solution; the security forces will need to adapt their doctrine and make the new operating procedures work effectively and efficiently and this will take time. For the greatest effect, NIMASA may look to integrate the Deep Blue Project into a wider maritime security structure which would ultimately project its advantage beyond its own territorial waters. This however would only be efficient once the capability is fully established and operationally functional from both a physical and doctrinal perspective. #shipping #security #safety #offshore