#AreteDeepDive – The NDA Threat

On the 26th June 2021, the Niger Delta Avengers militant group announced the launching of “Operation Humble”.  The threat message stated that the group would once again bomb oil installations in the Niger Delta region with the aim of crippling the Nigerian economy.  It also threatened to attack politicians who are working with the Federal Government “…to undermine the Niger Delta region.” The threat statement was intended to focus attention on the ongoing discussion concerning the new oil bill and the issues of derivation funding, strategic development, and investment, and calls for social justice for indigenes of the region.

In this #AreteDeepDive, we take a look at the threat and what it means for all stakeholders in the region.

So what is the basis of this latest threat, and is it credible?

The Niger Delta Avengers emerged in 2016 when, on 13 February, the Forcados export line was bombed in a sophisticated underwater attack. The NDA claimed responsibility and announced that they “will continue blowing up pipelines until the Niger Delta people were no longer marginalized”.

The group went on to strike repeatedly throughout 2016, targeting specific, strategic nodes and links in the pipeline networks in the region which consequently halving Nigeria’s oil export capacity. The impact was to force the country into a recession as oil revenues plummeted. Their last confirmed attack occurred in November 2016, after which the attacks ceased when the Pan Niger Delta Forum brokered a ceasefire. Since then, the group has been active only sporadically and has focussed on political agitation.

Their stated aims are the establishment of the Niger Delta Republic and social and distributive justice for its people. The group has consistently remained critical of the incumbent President and has been supportive of the Biafran separatist Nnamdi Kanu, leader of IPOB.

It is noteworthy that throughout 2016 the NDA issued several threats which they then subsequently carried as promised. This is at odds with the usual rhetoric that fills the media from the many other militant groups active in the region (noting the region has seen as many as 36 active militant groups at any one time).

As a group noted for carrying out its threats the NDA developed a reputation as one of the most dangerous and active groups ever to emerge in the region, however since 2016 its capability has appeared to diminish. For example, in 2019 the group threatened to cripple the country’s oil industry if President Buhari was re-elected for a second term yet this threat failed to materialise.

What is different this time around?

There are a number of factors that make this latest threat from the NDA worthy of attention.

The content of the threat focuses on a loss of confidence in the peace processes and the development programs for the region. It names the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) as a failure and in doing so decouples itself from the pre-eminent Ijaw leadership of Chief Edwin Clark. It is noteworthy that it has previously denounced PANDEF in 2017 when the group said it had withdrawn from a ceasefire agreement.

Nigeria’s economy is currently in a parlous state, with rising debt, rampant unemployment, and dangerously low revenues and investment. While many commentators point towards a slight recovery in 2021, the indicators are that the economy will continue to suffer throughout the year. The knock-on effect of this is continued poverty and hardship in some areas of the Niger Delta meaning the continuance of fertile recruitment grounds for criminals and extremist groups.

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 info@areteafrica.com

#AreteDeepDive – Security in South-Eastern Nigeria

The widespread protests of 12 June focussed attention on the diverse and dynamic security situation that pervades much of Nigeria.   One area of particular concern is that of the South-East region comprising of the five Igbo heartland states of Imo, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Abia.  The simmering tension around the secessionist movement known as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is slowly coming to a boil.  Increasingly frequent attacks on security forces, primarily police stations, by so-called ‘unknown gunmen’ are elevating the tensions to the point where the population of the region expects a widespread and vigorous clampdown by security forces.

Tension in parts of Imo State is palpable.  The Orlu Local Government Area (LGA) became a focal point of security forces operations in recent months and anecdotal information from the community there describes a real fear of violence.  Children were not attending school and people were staying at home, only moving around the area when essential.  However, according to one local source, concerted security forces action in Orlu has forced IPOB to relocate its resources to Akokwa in the Ideato North LGA, and life is slowly returning to normal in Orlu.

Support for IPOB among the Igbo population of the region, and further afield, is fragmentary.  Many people resent the impact security forces activity has had on their communities as a result of the IPOB campaign.  IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu is widely regarded as an opportunist who cares little about the people of Biafra and who is more interested in building a personal power base and acquiring wealth.  However, his followers and supporters are numerous among indigenous Nigerians and the diaspora.  His influence and ability to mobilise large numbers of people will remain a problem for the Nigerian government and its security forces for the foreseeable future.

Many people fear a widespread backlash against Igbo communities and businesses across the country.  Numerous agitators on both sides of the discussion are contributing to this tension.  Many among the Igbo believe another Biafra conflict is inevitable.  They fear that IPOB will continue to provoke the security forces and Federal Government until patience in Abuja runs out, unleashing a full-scale counterinsurgency campaign in the South-East Region.   For now, the Biafran pot has not reached boiling point, but it has the potential to do so rapidly.  Nevertheless, the situation in the region is impacting heavily on local commercial activity and security forces activity might impede movement for business travellers to and within the region.

Arete provide travel advice and secure journey management for safe movement through all high risk environments in West Africa. Please see more information here or email us at info@areteafrica.com for more information.

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

Gulf of Guinea Declaration on Suppression of Piracy

On May 17, BIMCO launched the “Gulf of Guinea Declaration on Suppression of Piracy” as noted in an earlier article on our website.

On May 20, Togolese MPs adopted a law on the planning, protection, and enhancement of the 50-kilometer coastline from Ghana to Benin. This new strategic document was validated in Lomé by actors in the sector. The plan will in effect enable Togo to better monitor fishing activities, prevent the overexploitation of resources and limit the number of boats that can fish in the national waters. Moreover, it would help improve the revenues of local fishermen.

So why are efforts like this important and what does the declaration mean?

The recent Gulf of Guinea Declaration on the Suppression of Piracy is the latest international initiative to address the enduring problem of maritime crime, in all its forms, in the region. It is an indicator of the degree of frustration within the maritime industry that has deepened in recent years as the pirates have become emboldened and gained additional reach and capacity.

To date, it has been signed by 292 shipping companies, maritime organisations, and maritime service providers. As a statement, the very existence of the Declaration is a strong indicator to Governments in the region that the world’s shipping industry expects them to act and to generate results.

To underline that frustration, the International Maritime Bureau and other transnational bodies have clearly identified the waters of the Gulf of Guinea as the global hotspot for piracy and other forms of maritime crime, with a total 39 incidents in the offshore environment and port areas of the region in 2021 to date (including at least 46 seafarers being abducted from their vessels).

However, piracy is not the only form of maritime crime to plague the region. Stowaways, illegal boardings and theft from ships in ports and anchorages, illegal and unregulated fishing, illegal dumping of waste, smuggling of illicit cargo and contraband, and illegal bunkering operations are just some of the other facets of the maritime criminal environment that exist. All are linked in a loose network of ‘businesses’ that are facilitated and patronised by key influencers and enablers.

Multiple programs of local naval equipment procurement throughout the Gulf of Guinea states have failed to make any significant headway against the criminal gangs operating in the region. Legislative steps taken by local Governments, while encouraging, have also had a limited impact on the ability of the pirates to carry out their operations. Equally, multi-national cooperation among regional states has also produced only minor results and these initiatives have proven to be short-lived in many cases. The reasons for these apparent failures are the root cause of the challenges faced by mariners in the region.

With regards to the Niger Delta area of Nigeria, poverty remains an enduring factor contributing to the piracy problem, through the generation of a huge pool of potential manpower, i.e. young men who are prepared to go to sea to commit criminality for financial gain.

In many instances, and despite the best intentions of local Governments, pirates also face little chance of being caught or killed and are confident of success as a result. Local judicial systems also fail to tackle the problem effectively, with very few of the ‘big men’ behind the gangs ever facing a court. In the rare event that a sponsor or patron is caught, they are normally able to avoid trial through patronage or bribery. Those junior members of the gangs that are caught and tried receive only lenient sentences and often are back at sea after very short periods in prison.

Respective Navies in the region also face their own problems, either due to a lack of capacity or a lack of capability to undertake effective maritime security. By example, many previous local procurement programs have seen the acquisition of predominantly small, fast craft suitable only for inshore, short-duration interception operations as opposed to acquiring larger vessels capable of undertaking long duration, deterrence (patrol) type operations, particularly in areas further offshore.

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.

Some Navies and national maritime agencies in the region have taken positive steps to address these issues including Nigeria who as part of their Deep Blue Project have acquired multiple assets including vessels and aviation assets to ensure the safety and security of their territorial waters and EEZ.

These assets, working in conjunction with multiple Regional Maritime Coordination Centres (RMCCs) located throughout Nigeria’s coastline, should go some way to providing an effective deterrence and response capability and it is clearly hoped that this latest declaration will drive more Gulf of Guinea states to invest in similar initiatives.

Whether this latest Declaration will see more Gulf of Guinea states invest in effective maritime security to reduce the levels of piracy in the region remains to be seen. Regardless, experience has shown that no single measure by any single state is going to defeat the criminals who prey on shipping in the Gulf of Guinea.

What is required is a truly multi-state, coordinated effort to ensure that local Navies have the right tools (and manpower) to deliver their mission and objectives in accordance with a holistic, regional counter-piracy strategy. This includes the deployment of assets that are fit-for-purpose to tackle the piracy problem, as well as investment in the right level of C4I architecture (e.g. the Regional Maritime Control Centres (RMCCs) established in Nigeria) that can provide accurate, timely and relevant intelligence to the Navy and other responders.

A thorough shake-up of local judicial systems to make piracy a high-risk enterprise is also necessary and the social drivers of instability that exist onshore, i.e. which generate the pool of manpower that pirate gangs require, also need addressing.

Nigeria is opening up for more business

On May 20, 2021, the Onne Multipurpose Terminal (OMT) opened its doors for operations. According to a report from Punch Nigeria, the Head of Operations, OMT, Robert Uljan, said the terminal will double Eastern Nigeria’s modern container handling capacity and thereby improve the region’s economic growth.

Days earlier on May 18, 2021, Lagos State Government announced that it had secured a loan of $629 million to finance the ongoing Lekki Deep Sea Port Enterprise Limited, LPLEL, billion-dollar project.

The Lekki deep seaport which is reportedly 50% complete is being built over 90 hectares of land at the centre of the Lekki Free Trade Zone, LFTZ, approximately 60 kilometres east of Lagos.

We look forward to helping businesses and individuals take advantage of these new business opportunities. #AreteAfrica

Send us a message today at info@areteafrica.com
#business #riskmanagementconsulting

#AreteSOS Lagos Robberies

On May 19, we received reports of robberies around Admiralty Way, Lekki, Lagos State. The reports said there were several persons affected at about 8 pm on May 18, 2021. There have also been growing cases of robberies along Ozumba Mbadiwe, Falomo, and Admiralty way, Lagos.

Due to these reports, we have consulted our in-house security experts and put together tips on how you and your loved ones can stay safe.

Feel free to share with your network. #AreteSOS