Legal Challenges and Responses
Edited by Douglas Guilfoyle
Chapter 4: Petro-piracy: predation and counter-predation in Nigerian waters
The world’s attention has been so focused on piracy off Somali that it is sometimes hard to believe piracy is occurring elsewhere. In the case of the Gulf of Guinea that is unwise. On the inland and coastal waters of Nigeria particularly, and on the waters over a hundred miles off its coast, acts of depredation against ships and fixed oil installation have been taking place which have resulted in far greater financial losses and had a far wider economic impact than anything seen so far anywhere else in the world. The effects of that disorder are spreading to its neighbors. Observers are divided as to whether these acts are criminally or politically inspired. Whatever the motivation they are a reaction to the rapacity of international oil companies (IOCs) over decades in the Delta region and the greed of Nigerian politicians who have colluded in the destruction of local habitat and the livelihoods it supported. Local inhabitants believe they have gained little or nothing from the billions of dollars paid for the oil extracted from beneath their feet. The main grievances are poverty, high youth unemployment, hiring practices that discriminate against locals and between local tribes, and the manipulation of government power by powerful ethnic groups outside the oil-rich Delta region to seize its oil wealth for themselves. The oil industry and particularly the unsafe practices used to steal from it have resulted in endemic pollution. Over the past 50 years 1.5 million tons of oil have been spilt,
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