GENERAL

Piracy

14 October According to a report by UK-based Dryad Maritime, the number of reported incidents of maritime crime in the Gulf of Guinea, South East Asia and the Indian Ocean High Risk Area had reduced significantly during the 3rd Quarter (Q3) of 2016. There were 24 recorded incidents across South East Asia during the period taking the total for the first nine months of 2016 to 69. In the Indian Ocean High Risk Area there were no confirmed acts of piracy in Q3 with the last recorded piracy incident reported on a merchant vessel in 2014. Attacks decreased in the Gulf of Guinea and Nigeria’s economic exclusion zone with only four reported attacks against commercial shipping at sea off the Niger Delta since July. This compares to a total of 36 reported incidents in the first six months of the year. While the rate of raids in the Gulf of Guinea fell in Q3, Dryad expects the rate of attacks to increase in Q4. The previous pattern has shown piracy to increase in the last quarter of the year due to improved weather and sea states.

17 October The Iranian Tasnim news agency reported that the Iranian Navy’s 44th Flotilla opened fire on pirates who had launched attacks against two Iranian oil tankers in the Gulf of Aden. On the first occasion, the pirates were in eight speed boats and on the second, in 13 speed boats. The pirates fled.

21 October Non-profits organisation Oceans Beyond Piracy (OBP) warned of a piracy “reset” off the Somali coast citing some of the risk factors as: “Naval forces are getting drawn away. There is a great deal of work for them to do, particularly with the migration problems and issues higher up the Horn of Africa ... the days of the European naval force may be coming to an end. No one has helped build the Somalis a decent coast guard or maritime police”. Also mentioned in the OBP report are: “As 2015 progressed, private security teams were used less and less frequently by ships in the area, and when they were used, shipping companies increasingly opted for smaller and cheaper teams”. Globally, another reason to worry about piracy is the increasing use of kidnapping. In the Southeast Asia seas, there have been 12 maritime kidnapping incidents compared to zero in 2015.

AFRICA

Piracy

14 October Prior to the African Union Extraordinary Summit on Maritime Security and Safety and Development in Africa which was expected to be attended by up to 30 African heads of government in Lome, Togo, on 15 October, the African Union issued an online statement about its Protect Our Oceans meeting that said: “Over recent decades, the accumulated revenue losses resulting directly from illegal activities in the African maritime sector add up to hundreds of billions of US dollars, without counting the loss of human lives”. The long term aim, according to the AU, is to “make maritime space the key driver of Africa’s economic and social development”. While illegal fishing, smuggling, pollution and economic development are up for discussion, there is one particular issue set to take centre stage. “Piracy comes first”, according to Togo’s Foreign Minister Robert Dussey who added: “Between 2005 and the present, we have suffered more than 205 attacks. Pirates give priority to raids on oil tankers but they also target merchant shipping”.

16 October At the Summit at Lome on 15 October, 43 African nations signed up to a binding agreement to boost security off the continent’s economically crucial coasts, hoping to shore up development by tackling maritime crimes such as piracy and smuggling. The agreement will see countries pay into a special fund for maritime security. Eighteen heads of state were among the delegates from the 54 member states, 38 of which have coast lines that were present at the Summit. The deal is designed to improve information sharing between African nations, a weakness that has been exploited by pirates and smugglers in the past. However, Timothy Walker, a maritime security researcher at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), said the deal would allow countries to withhold information from each other if they judge this to be in the interests of national security.

Burkina Faso

12 October Three soldiers and two attackers were killed when Jihadists attacked a police checkpoint at Intangom, on the Mali border. This was the latest of a number of attacks by Jihadists in the area and raised fears of an increase in the risk from kidnapping to mining companies operating in northern Burkina Faso.

31 October The terrorist group al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) released a video to the Mauritanian private agency “Al Akhbar” showing Romanian hostage Combine Guigot who was kidnapped on 4 April 2015 while working as a security guard in a manganese mine in Tambao, northern Burkina Faso. The hostage claimed to be in good health and said: “I ask my family, especially my father, my mother and all my brothers and sisters to seek a solution with the Romanian government for my freedom” He says this will be his last message and urges the government of his country to do all possible for his release.

Egypt

5 October According to the independent Cairo newspaper, Watani, four Coptic Christians, including a child, who were kidnapped on 3 October at Manfalout, Assiut, had been released after a ransom was paid. The newspaper reported that the kidnappers initially demanded a ransom of EGP500,000 (USD56,300) against a threat to kill the hostages. The ransom was negotiated down to EGP200,000 (USD22,500) before an agreement was reached at EGP150,000 (USD16,900) that was paid. One of the victims’ relatives told the newspaper that the Assiut security deputy chief had advised him to pay the ransom in order to ensure the safety of the victims and added that, once the kidnappers were arrested, the ransom money would be found and returned to the families. The four had been kidnapped when armed men blocked the road as they were travelling for a job interview in Zarayeb al Ooussiya.

Libya

6 October Sheik Nador al Omrani, a member of the Council of Researches and Islamic Studies at the Fatwa House, was kidnapped by gunmen in two cars who intercepted him as he was on his way to a mosque in Tripoli to perform morning prayers. In another recent kidnapping, Omar Hajaji, Deputy General Manager of the Libyan Foreign Bank, was kidnapped by an armed gang from in front of his house in Tripoli. He was shot in the leg during the abduction. He has since been released and has travelled abroad for medical treatment. Hajaji’s family claimed that they did not pay a ransom and they have no idea who carried out the kidnapping. It has been reported that victims of kidnappings and their families have no legitimate state institutions to turn to for help but have to rely on their own efforts by contacting the numerous Tripoli-based militias, informal networks or tribal leaders to find out what has happened. Kidnappings do not happen just in Tripoli but in the east of the country as well. In many cases, kidnappings are carried out by gangs in order to receive ransom payments rather than for political reasons. Kidnappings have also been carried out by the Islamic State and, possibly, even al Qaeda as in a recent case in Ghat.

18 October It was reported that political kidnapping had risen in Tripoli. Abdul-Hakim al Mishiri, a former commander in the Tripoli Revolutionaries Brigade who laid down arms and set up Ethar Charity in 2011, was kidnapped on 16 October, 10 days after a senior Libyan Fatwa House member was kidnapped. Earlier in the month, Nadir al Omrani, a member of the Council of Researches and Islamic Sharia Studies of Libyan Fatwa House, was kidnapped by an armed group. All three victims are still missing.

22 October Fathi al Shatti, CEO of Libyan Airlines, was kidnapped by armed men on the Tripoli Airport road as he travelled home after work. On 24 October, the airline released a statement saying that it had scheduled a gradual plan for shutting down its services working towards a complete halt of operations if their CEO is not released. The statement added that the kidnapping and extortion that is happening in the country could lead to the collapse of the aviation system and air transport sector.

22 October Forces loyal to the government issued a statement saying that they had rescued a Turkish and an Egyptian citizen, and 11 Eritrean women who were being held by Islamic State militants in Sirte.

Mali

18 October The US Embassy in Bamako issued a travel alert advising US citizens to review their personal security, remain aware of their surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates. It added that US nationals should exercise caution throughout the country especially at night. The travel alert was issued as a result of the kidnapping of a US citizen in neighbouring Niger.

Mozambique

4 October Local sources said that Americo Sebastian, a businessman of Portuguese nationality based in Beira, had been kidnapped on 29 June and there has been no trace of him since. The victim is the co-owner of Beira-Boi Ltda, a company created in 2008 and trading as a wholesaler and retailer of agriculture and livestock. There are conflicting rumours about the motive for the kidnapping including the victim having paid money to Renamo.

14 October Faruk Ayoob, of Indian origin and owner of Ayoob Grupo Comercial, was shot at and wounded as he drove past the US Embassy in Maputo at around 10:00am. A grandchild who was in the vehicle was unhurt. The assailants were travelling in a small hatchback with South African number plates and five shots were fired. According to unconfirmed information, the attack was a failed kidnapping attempt. Three Ayoob family members have suffered previous kidnappings for ransom in August 2012, April 2014 and October 2014. In each incident, a ransom was paid for the release of the victim.

19 October The police foiled an attempted kidnapping that occurred at around 9:00pm in Maputo. According to reports, four kidnappers in two cars blocked the path of a car carrying an unnamed target and the kidnappers tried to force the target out of his car. A police car appeared and the kidnappers fled in their two cars leaving the target behind. One of the fleeing cars crashed resulting in the driver being burned to death while two other kidnappers were seriously wounded in an exchange of gunfire with pursuing police. The second car escaped. One of those wounded was a Zimbabwean citizen who is wanted by the police for his involvement in other kidnappings in Maputo.

Niger

15 October The Interior Ministry announced in a statement that, at around 8:00pm the previous day, gunmen had raided the house at Abalak, central Niger, of Jeffery Woodke, an American citizen who works for JEMED, a local NGO, and has lived in the country since 1992, kidnapping him and killing his driver and housekeeper. The kidnappers then drove their victim across the desert towards Mali. The mayor of Abalak said that gunmen first came on a motorbike to kill the guard before more gunmen arrived in a pickup truck and took the victim away. The victim is listed as an instructor on the Redwood Coast School of Missions, a Christian mission based in Arcata, California. This is the first time a US citizen has been kidnapped in the Sahel region although al Qaeda and criminal gangs in the region have long targeted French nationals and other Europeans for kidnapping and demanded large dollar ransoms for their release.

Nigeria

1 October It was reported that Mrs. Margaret Emefiele, wife of Godwin Emefiele, Central Bank Governor, had been kidnapped along with her driver and three other female companions on 29 September by a group of heavily armed men while travelling along the Benin (Edo State)-Agbor(Delta State) Expressway and had demanded a huge sum, later reported to be N100 million (USD317,450) in ransom for her release. On 1 October, it was reported that the victim, the driver and her companions had been released at about 12:30am after being held for 24 hours It was later reported that the Chief of the Air Staff had ordered the deployment of ATR 42 maritime surveillance aircraft to search the creeks of Edo and Delta States and agents from the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), DSS and the police moved to the suspected location after the kidnappers were tracked by security systems. Security sources said that the victim and her companions were rescued between 1:00am and 2:00am at Ugolekii, Edo State, after security forces stormed the kidnappers’ den. It was also reported that the victim was being escorted by four armed policemen at the time of her kidnapping. On 4 October, the police said that two people had been arrested in connection with the kidnapping and a further four were being sought. The men were arrested following a coordinated intelligence and investigation operation by the Police Intelligence Response Team (IRT) in close collaboration with the Emefiele family. The ransom money, said to be negotiated down from N100 million (USD317,500) to a payment of N80 million (USD254,000), was paid before the victims were rescued. One of the kidnappers said while being interviewed by police, that the gang were on a random kidnapping operation along the Expressway and did not set out to kidnap Mrs. Emefiele. He added that they had kidnapped a male motorist a few minutes before Mrs. Emefiele who they released immediately they realised the huge value of Mrs. Emefiele. On 7 October, the police stated that a total of nine suspects, including two military personnel and one ex-military serviceman, had been arrested. The six other suspects are Felani herdsmen. The police also said N14,725,000 (USD46,750) had been recovered.

1 October It was reported that Father Emmanuel Dim, Rector of Tansi Major Seminary, had been released. The Chancellor of the Diocese of Awka said that no ransom had been paid.. The victim was kidnapped along with two other priests who were travelling with him, when their car was stopped by alleged Fulani herdsmen on 26 September. One of his companions was shot in the head and is receiving treatment in hospital.

2 October Following the increase in kidnapping cases, the Police Force and the Department of State Services issued a security advisory to top government officers and prominent Nigerians that listed precautionary security measures which prominent people should take to avoid being kidnapped.

3 October Mrs. Laurentia Mallam, the immediate past Minister of Environment, and her husband, Pius (73), were kidnapped while returning from a funeral in Abuja to Kaduna along the Bwari/Jere road of the Kaduna-Abuja Expressway at about 7:00pm in the evening when six armed men blocked the road. On 5 October, a former aide to Mrs. Mallam said the kidnappers had demanded a ransom of N10 million (USD31,750). On 6 October, it was reported that Mrs. Mallam and her husband had been released after their relatives paid a ransom after negotiations.

5 October Serah Danjuma (15) and Martha Daniels (16), schoolgirls at the Government Vocational School, Rijau, Niger State, were kidnapped from the school when gunmen entered the compound through a broken fence. The victims were taken into the Rijau forest. The anti-kidnapping team in the area was alerted and pursued the kidnappers’ party. An exchange of gunfire between the kidnappers and police lasting about 2 hours ensued. The kidnappers ran deeper into the forest abandoning their two victims who were rescued by the police.

6 October Lagos State House Assembly is set to produce a Bill that would provide for the prohibition of kidnapping in the state. The Speaker of the House said that the intention of the Bill was to further expand the scope of the existing anti-kidnapping law to accommodate new challenges and strategies to curb kidnapping. On 21 October, it was revealed when the Lagos State Assembly held a public hearing on a Bill for a law to provide for the prohibition of the act of kidnapping and other connected purposes that the Assembly had recommended death by hanging as penalty for kidnapping. The Bill stated that any person, who kidnaps, abducts, details or captures or takes another person by any means with intent to demand ransom or do anything against his/her will commits an offence, and is liable on conviction to death sentence. In addition, persons who knowingly or willingly allows or permits his premises, building or place belonging or occupied to which he has control of, to be used for the purposes of keeping a person kidnapped is guilty of an offence under the law and liable on conviction to a term of imprisonment of 14 years without an option of fine.

6 October Six gunmen, including one woman, forced their way into the Junior School Assembly Hall of the Lagos State Model College, Igbonia, in the Epe area of Lagos State, while the pupils were praying at around 8:00am and kidnapped the Vice Principal, AO Oyesola, an English teacher, Lukman Oyerinde, and four pupils, three males and a female, identified as Abu, Emmanuel Okonkwo, Jeremiah Ruth and Isaac Adebisi. The kidnappers approached the school in three speedboats, entered the premises through the gate of the boys’ hostel and ordered all the pupils to lie down. A pupil who recounted the incident said that everyone started running and some pupils ran into the surrounding bush, however, the kidnappers managed to catch six of them. The police managed to rescue two of the kidnapped students a few hours after the incident leaving four still as hostages. The kidnappers escaped with their hostages along the Ogbere River. It was later revealed the kidnappers visited the area on four occasions while planning the kidnapping. On 7 October, it was reported that three of the families of the kidnapped pupils had been contacted by the kidnappers using a telephone that did not reveal the caller’s number, who demanded ransoms that were later stated to be N5 million (USD15,900) per victim. A source said the kidnappers had said all the victims were fine but, during the telephone call, a gunshot was heard. On 9 October, the kidnappers contacted one of the victims’ family and, after pleading by the family, lowered the ransom demand to N3.5 million (USD11,100) per victim. The kidnappers also said that one of the victims had fallen ill and added that a nurse was about to administer the necessary medication. The kidnappers contacted the families again on 10 October and reduced the ransom to N1 million (USD3,175) per victim. They also set a deadline of 13 October for the money to be paid. On 11 October, it was reported that the six kidnapping victims had been released but the ransom paid was not disclosed. One of the kidnapped pupils had become ill and the family paid N1 million (USD3,175) earlier. Mr. Oluwafemi Adebisi, father of Isaac, when asked if he had paid a ransom said: “Let’s not talk about ransom because I did not pay any dime. But I don’t know if anyone paid. My joy is that my son and others returned alive”. The four pupils said they were well fed and were not molested by the kidnappers.

7 October Saminu Aliyu Kiri, a lecturer in the Computer Science Department, Bayero University, Kano State, was kidnapped along with two companions while travelling back by car from supervising a Student Industrial Work Experience Scheme in Shaki, Oyo State.

7 October Michael Alogba-Olukoya, National President of the National Union of Teachers, urged the National Assembly to pass into law a bill prescribing the death penalty for kidnappers. He was speaking after the kidnapping of the Vice Principal, a teacher and four students of the Lagos State Model College.

7 October The wife of Samuel Ajbola, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress in Ekiti State, was kidnapped by gunmen at about 8:30pm from the family home at Omuo Oke community, Ekiti East Local Government Area, Ekiti State. The victim’s husband stated: “At gunpoint, my wife surrendered the key of our car to the kidnappers and they drove her away to an unknown destination”. During the evening of 8 October, he said he had been able to speak to his wife at 5:45pm. The kidnappers told him that he was actually their target and demanded a ransom of N40 million (USD127,000) for the release of his wife.

8 October Chief Adeolu Ogunbanjo, Deputy President of the National Parent Teacher Association of Nigeria (NAPTAN), appealed to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to provide urgently 24 hour security surveillance in all boarding schools in Lagos State. He told newsmen in Lagos that the spate of kidnapping was becoming “one incident too many”.

11 October During an interview in Abuja, Police Spokesman Don Awunah said that the Police had arrested 487 kidnapping for ransom suspects nationwide and rescued 350 victims since the beginning of June. He added: “It is appreciated that there is a relative increase in kidnapping but we are on top of the job”.

11 October The police reported that a Romanian engineer, later identified as Christian Nedeleu, had been kidnapped by gunmen late on 10 October in the Owa Oyibo area of Delta State. The victim was working for Dextron Nigeria Ltd, a construction company. The kidnappers are said to have attacked a group of foreigners at a railway construction site in Agbor, Delta State, before kidnapping the Romanian. On 12 October, the Romanian Foreign Ministry announced that the victim had been released but did not provide any details. The Ministry thanked the Nigerian authorities and the crisis team that it had set up. On 14 October, a spokeswoman for the Delta State Police said the Romanian victim was rescued along with a colleague whose nationality she did not disclose. She added the two victims had been rescued along the Urhonigbe-Abraka road in the bush, no ransom was paid and no arrests had been made.

12 October It was reported that there had been three recent kidnapping incidents in Cross River State. Over the weekend, an attempt was made to kidnap Professor Gabriel Ikpi, Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Academics, Cross River State University of Technology, when gunmen blocked his vehicle. He managed to fight back and was shot in the leg as he escaped. In a second incident, an unidentified daughter of a former Police Public Relations Officer in Cross Rivers State, Mr. John Umoh, was kidnapped in Calabar on 10 October. Mr. Umoh exchanged shots with the kidnappers but they still managed to kidnap his daughter. His wife was wounded during the gun battle. The kidnappers later contacted the family and demanded a ransom of N20 million (USD63,500). Mr. Umoh offered N115,000 (USD365) but this was rejected by the kidnappers. In the third incident, on 10 October Mr, Canice Atsu, Executive Secretary of Obudu Urban Development Authority, was kidnapped by unknown gunmen from his home in Obudu.

12 October Hon. Babatunde Gabriel Kolawole, Representative for Akoko South East/South West Federal Constituency in Ondo State, sponsored a motion before the House of Representatives calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to convene a security summit to include all the security agencies, all GSM Service Providers and relevant standing committees of the National Assembly to declare a state of emergency on kidnappings in Nigeria. A number of Representatives who have had family members kidnapped also spoke in support of the motion.

13 October According to reports, 21 schoolgirls who had been kidnapped among over 200 schoolgirls by Boko Haram from Chibok in April 2014, were released in a prisoner swap. The deal was brokered between Boko Haram, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Nigerian and Swiss governments, presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said on Twitter. Negotiations are said to be set to continue. Information Minister Lai Mohammed denied that detained Boko Haram fighters had been swapped for the schoolgirls but added he was not aware whether or not a ransom was paid.

15 October Enugu State police reported that Odinaka Oju, an alleged notorious kidnapper, had been arrested along with some accomplices the previous week in connection with the kidnapping of Pa Fidelis Ojobo (75) at Umuogbo Ulo, Igboeze North Local Government Area, Enugu State. The kidnappers had contacted the victim’s children and demanded a ransom of N50 million (USD158,700) and were about to collect the money when they were arrested. The police said that Oju had been “singing like a parrot” telling them all he knew about the kidnapping industry and his sponsors who included a police officer and former top official in the Enugu State government.

17 October A spokesperson for the President said that the Boko Haram faction that recently released 21 Chibok schoolgirls, was ready to release a further 83 more. He added that the faction said it was ready to negotiate if the government is willing to sit down with them.

18 October Alhaji Salisu Riruwai, a member of the Kano State House of Assembly representing Doguwa constituency, while briefing newsmen in Kano said that over N40 million (USD127,000) was paid by families whose relatives had been kidnapped in one of the many wards in his constituency. He added that there were other people who paid large ransoms to free kidnapped relatives in other areas that he is not aware of. He mentioned the recent case of four nursing mothers who had been kidnapped and, in the process of freeing them, one of their babies died.

19 October The Anti-Kidnapping Unit of the Rivers State Police Command rescued Sir Chief Samuel Ihenachor from a kidnappers’ hideout in Asarama, Andoni Local Government Area, Rivers State. The victim had been kidnapped while driving his Jeep along the Aba-Oyibgo Road on 10 October by six armed men. The Jeep was tracked by police along the Aba Road before being stopped. There were two men in the vehicle which was being driven by a Lance Corporal of the 2nd Brigade. He and his companion were wearing army uniforms. Under interrogation, the two suspects confessed to the crime and led the police to the location where the victim was being held. Three other members of the kidnapping gang were arrested at the hideout. The victim was rescued without a ransom being paid.

19 October According to a statement posted on Facebook of Rivers State Police Commands, three members, two men and a woman, of a notorious kidnapping for ransom gang were arrested as they went to withdraw ransom money from a bank account. They had threatened to kidnap Osato Nwakaji unless he paid them N3 million (USD9,525). The targeted victim informed the police who advised him to play along and deposit N100,000 (USD317) into the bank account nominated by the kidnappers, When the gang went to withdraw the deposited money, the police were waiting and arrested the three members. The same gang had been responsible for the kidnapping of 9 year old girl, Miracle John, at Igbo Itche, for whose release they were paid N3 million (USD9,525) and a staff member of the NNPC from whom they collected N12 million (USD38,000).

21 October Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas, Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), speaking in Onne, Rivers State, at the launch of the third phase of Operation Tsare Teku IIIsaid (Safe River”), said the operation was the continuation of the operation launched as the first phase on 25 April and second phase on 22 July to tackle increasing attacks on merchant ships. He added it was necessary to extend the operation by a further three months. He commented that attacks on shipping had declined appreciably with only 2 successful cases of piracy during the first phase and one successful attempt in the second phase.

21 October It was reported that Lagos State Police Command had dismantled a kidnapping for ransom syndicate that specialised in demanding extortion payments from members of the public against the threat to kidnap them if they failed to pay the “protection” money, by arresting a member of the syndicate. The syndicate would contact targets by telephone calls or text messages informing them that they were kidnappers, saying they were being followed and giving detailed information about their locations and routines. The arrested member was caught after a woman living on Lagos Island reported to the police on 1 October that she was receiving telephone calls. The caller had demanded she paid N37 million (USD117,450) into a nominated bank account. The police started an investigation that resulted in the arrest of the suspect on 10 October in Kano State who admitted to the crime under interrogation raising the possibility of arrest of his accomplices.

23 October The Kogi State Police Commissioner said that cases of kidnapping and armed robbery along the highways across the state have reduced by 70% following what he called intense surveillance and patrolling by the police. He added that the Police Command was collaborating with traditional rulers and other relevant groups across the state to tackle security challenges.

25 October Alhaji Yahuza Ibrahim, Vice Chairman of Anka Local Government Area, Zafara State, was kidnapped by gunmen during the night from his residence in Wiya. The Chairman of the council said that on 26 October he had received a telephone call from an unidentifiable number and a man speaking in Hausa demanded a ransom of N5 million (USD15,875) for the safe release of the victim.

28 October The Lagos State Police paraded eight members of a gang who had been arrested in connection of the kidnapping of a Christian Church of God pastor and had admitted to having received N14.8 million (USD47,000) in ransoms in three months. They disclosed that they had received ransoms of N6 million (USD19,050), N5 million (USD15,8750 and N3.5 million (USD11,100) from kidnapping an expatriate and two others on separate occasions in Lagos and Ogun states. It was also disclosed that the gang had also kidnapped Otunba Lateef Ogunfowora, owner of LatOgun Petroleum, in Ijebu Ode.

30 October Irene Offiong Ekpe, a serving Councillor in Bakassi Local Government Council of Cross River State, and two others including her personal driver, were charged in connection with their alleged involvement in the kidnapping for ransom of five expatriates on 22 June 2016. The Councillor’s personal car is said to have been used to transport the ransom paid to the kidnappers. Five staff members of MacMahon including three Australians, a New Zealander and a South African, were kidnapped on their way to work at UNICEM Cement, a subsidiary of La-Farge Africa Plc, located at Mfamosing in Akamkpa Local Government Area, about 20kms from Calabar, Cross River State. A reported payment of about N250 million (USD794,000) was paid by MacMahon and UNICEM.

31 October The Kano State House of Assembly passed an Amendment to the Kidnapping, Abduction and Forced Labour Bill that stipulated a life sentence for criminals found guilty of kidnapping. The amendment was made as, although the law had been in existence since 1963, it did not provide for serious punishment for kidnappers. Any person found guilty of kidnapping will now face life imprisonment without an option of fine.

Somalia

18 October United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a brief reference in an 18 page report on Somali piracy covering the period ending 30 September 2016, stated that five Kenyan nationals were being held for ransom including one woman. In addition, 39 seamen from foreign registered vessels are still being held including 26 from an Omani ship. The report noted that dhows and foreign fishing vessels have become the main targets of the Somali pirates during the past year. According to the report, no crew members from large commercial ships are currently being held but the threat of attacks on ships in waters off Somalia remains substantial, the report cautions.

22 October Twenty six crew members from an Omani flagged fishing vessel, “FV Naham 3”, were released by Somali pirates after being held hostage for 1,673 days. The fishing vessel was hijacked in late March 2012 close to the Seychelles. During this time, two of the crew died from malnutrition and a further crew member had been killed when the pirates stormed the vessel. Maritime sources said that the vessel did not have kidnap for ransom insurance meaning the owners were unable to raise the money to pay a ransom. Instead, the task of negotiating the freedom of the crew members was carried out by a team lead by Colonel John Steed, a former UN official and military attaché to the British Embassy in Kenya. He is understood to have persuaded the pirates to accept a payment for the “expenses” incurred in hijacking and guarding the vessel which are believed to have been substantially less than the ransom demanded. Crew members were from Cambodia, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. This is the third crew rescued by Colonel Steed whose work is supported by the charity Oceans Beyond Piracy. On 23 October, while welcoming the released sailors when they arrived on a United Nations humanitarian flight at Nairobi Airport, Colonel Steed said: “We have achieved what we have achieved by getting tribal elders, religious leaders, the community and regional government all involved to put pressure on these guys to release their hostages”. On 25 October, a Filipino sailor who had been released said the pirates treated them like animals and they had only eaten rice, beans, flour wheat and were forced to catch rats and cook them to supplement their diet. He added that they were only given a small amount of water. It was also reported that a ransom of USD1.5 million was paid for the sailors’ release but this could not be independently verified. It was later reported that ransom money had previously been raised and paid for the release of a Taiwanese crew member, Shen Jui-chang, the Chief Engineer, but he refused to leave without his 25 crewmates.

30 October A Kenyan woman whose name was not divulged, was released by Somali pirates to state officials after the payment of an undisclosed ransom. The victim had been held for more than 18 months. She was released in Adado town, Central Somalia.

Uganda

20 October A Kampala Metropolitan police spokesperson asked the public to tighten their security and that of their families following a reported upsurge in kidnappings for ransom. The spokesperson added that at least three cases of child kidnapping were reported between Saturday and Tuesday. The three new cases came in the wake of 18 reported cases, 10 children and 8 adults, in recent weeks.

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