The Ghana Armed Forces is warning of more pirate activities in the Gulf of Guinea, following the hijacking of a Nigerian oil vessel by pirates.
The pirates are demanding the release of a leading political figure and director of a recently shut Biafra Radio station Nnamdi Kanu. The station was closed down following a campaign for autonomy for the Biafra State.
The pirates, believed to be part of the Niger Delta militants, hijacked the Bulgarian oil ship off Nigeria’s Bakassi Peninsula, along Nigeria’s south eastern Atlantic Ocean coastline, near the border with Cameroon.
The pirates have threatened to blow up the ship if their demand for the release of Kanu, leader of Indigenous People of Biafra is not met. Recently some Nigerian pirates were arrested off the coast of Ghana. The suspects have since been repatriated to Nigeria for trial.
The Director of Research of the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College Dr. Kamal-Deen Ali believes the political demand of the pirates brings a new and dangerous twist to the piracy situation in the sub region.
“In this particular instance it has given us a very new dimension in the piracy occurrences in the Gulf of Guinea because it’s the first time that a vessel was hijacked and there is a direct connectivity of the hijacking to some political demands.
“Those who hijacked the vessel are known to be elements of the Niger Delta militancy, they are saying they were working in concert with the Biafra agitation group and asking that the particular person that has been arrested be released,” he said.
Dr Ali added: “This is very significant because most of the vessels that were hijacked or that have been hijacked in the Gulf of Guinea in the last few years are hijacked purely on economic reasons largely or certain times connected to the Niger Delta militants but didn’t really come out publicly in the form of a political demand. So this has made this particular hijacking very significant and one that not only Nigeria, every country in the region should be worried about.
“And if you go back to the case where some Nigerian pirates were arrested closed to the waters of Ghana, it is an indication of how insecurity on one part of the region can affect the whole of the region or many parts of the region.”
The Commander went further to caution militant groups like Boko Haram could also adopt a similar strategy. He wants countries in the sub region to heighten surveillance and maintain constant presence at the Coasts of the Gulf of Guinea.
“Other insurgent groups or fighter groups like Boko Haram could also go out there at sea to hijack a particular platform and make political demands,” he stated.