Can Resuscitating amnesty Programme Reduce Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea? 

Capt Tajudeen Alao (Master Mariner)

Amnesty cannot address piracy, piracy goes beyond local militancy, it is criminal and cuts across tribal consideration. We need tight and collaborative security safety net to curb attacks on ships in the Gulf of Guinea. In order to provide lasting solution to piracy in the region, we need to deploy the use of technology and domesticated ECOWAS legislation, large scale deployment of patrol boats in our waters, most especially at estuaries of rivers into the ocean.

 

Otunba Kunle Folarin (Chairman, Seafarers Welfare Board)

I do not think so, because piracy issues have been there before the Niger Delta struggle. Is Niger Delta in Somalia and Indian Ocean? Is the Gulf of Guinea in Somalia? Is the Malaga strait in the Malaysian Peninsula in Africa? Amnesty is to address and engage those who were involved in the militancy at that time. The militant figure rose by more than 400% and spread to sis states in the Niger Delta including Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Imo, Rivers and Ondo States as well as some areas of Edo State. A resuscitation of amnesty will now include Boko Haram and Herdsmen and youths from other areas where there is militancy.

 

Jonathan Nicole (President, Shippers Association Lagos State)

Of course, I believe it would address it, if it did in the past, it can still address the challenge now, I believe that this is the motive of setting it up the amnesty programme; to stop militancy. An idle mind is the devil’s workshop. If perhaps amnesty failed to address piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, then we must hold the maritime security agencies and the West Africa Regional Maritime Security network liable for such acts. 

Eedris Aloma (Seafarer)

Yes, amnesty will address the challenge, the only two things sea robbers know how to do is piracy and pipelines vandalism, so, placing them on amnesty programme is equipping them against doing criminal activities. Also, Nigerian sea pirates go out of the shores of Nigeria to perpetrate their activities in other neighbouring countries.

 

Captain Taiwo Akinpelumi (Zonal Coordinator, NISA)

When you are talking of amnesty programme, the question is, has the programme addressed the issue of social menace in the society? What will bring about reduction in crime rate including piracy is, policing of our waterways and proper social security in place as well as job creation for youths. Most of the projects carried out by state governments now are towards creating jobs for the youths. This will go a long way in addressing the security problems in the society. Amnesty should be given to people that have actually taken up arms or committed various crimes against the state. The government now should focus on how to engage the unemployed youths and ensure that they are effectively rehabilitated and trained to be entrepreneurs.

 

John Okpono (Merchant Navy)     

There is a saying that 'an idle mind is the devil's workshop'. When you give people amnesty you equip them and once you equip them you have reduced their period of staying idle. What it means is that their time for those nefarious activities has been reduced. Once you are engaged, sometimes you find yourself very busy that you cannot even attend to some other issues; it is the same thing with all these kidnappings. If the rate of unemployment didn't increase the way it is today, the rate of the criminal activities, not just piracy, won't be this high. All these are as a result of high rate of unemployment. Government should give the youths orientation and engage them or establish them as self-employed, they won't have time to think of going to sea to go and kidnap somebody.

 

Engineer Matthew Alalade (President, Merchant Navy Senior Staff Association)

It will address the issue of piracy, let there be jobs; not just amnesty. There is high rate of piracy because of unemployment, let there be jobs for them. If government stops amnesty, it will aggravate sea piracy so they should do more on not just the amnesty, but creating jobs for the youths.

 

John Egesi (Former NIS President)

I sincerely do not know why there is increase in the rate of piracy attacks, the government has abandoned the concept of administration, we heard that a whole government account was sealed up which is a gross abuse of power. Therefore nobody is looking at creating jobs for youths because when the country creates jobs for youths, things like piracy will not happen. It only happens where the government has failed like in Somalia; the government has failed, that is why you have piracy here.

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