Notwithstanding the efforts of the Nigerian Navy maritime piracy remains a real ongoing problem off West Africa. The Nigerian authorities recently found evidence that one of the maritime gangs involved Somalis and that is bourne out by our own recent experience. We have handled a number of kidnappings over the past 12 months including at the height of the pandemic when the pirates demands included money and PPE. The usual challenges these cases present were made so much worse by the lockdown and ban on international travel. Replacing crew and repatriating hostages often involved private planes and special licenses from a number of countries. The passing of new legislation on Piracy and Maritime Security in Nigeria also meant greater scrutiny of the ransom negotiation and hostage release process. That has meant building relations with the highest levels of the Nigerian navy to ensure safe passage.
Typically the time from capture to release remains around 30 days and compared to the situation in Somalia the amounts paid have remained relatively stable with dollars still preferred to local currency (or indeed Bitcoin). This still presents logistical difficulties in a country where cash withdrawals from banks remains so difficult against the back drop of a country under financial pressure.
Safe release of the crew in a reasonable time and without complications remains the aim of our response team and we have a very good track record in achieving just that working in particular with Ambrey International who we work with to ensure a complete solution handling the negotiations, money collection, delivery and release. This all done with an eye on regulatory and compliance issues working with the correct agencies to ensure that local laws are respected.
We have a tried and tested solution to kidnappings such as these and our team has considerable experience in operating in such high stress situations providing guidance throughout the process to owners, underwriters and importantly the hostages families.