There is anecdotal evidence that the gangs operating off West Africa (and it remains the case that most kidnappings are carried out by Nigerian gangs) have become more sophisticated. It is believed that attacks are carried out by one gang and the victims then “sold” to another who carry out the negotiations. The trend is to take a higher number of crew with the master, chief officer and cook seen as priority targets. Equipment is shared between gangs and as one set of crew is released another quickly takes its place. The crew members are often now held in the river system to the south west of Warri which is an area the Nigerian navy tend to patrol regularly. This gives rise to issues on the release of the crew who can expect to be intercepted by the Navy on their way out of the jungle.
Typically the time from capture to release remains around 35-30 days but with the weakening of the local currency there has been ransom inflation certainly when measured in Naira. As a result of the weak currency ransoms are now more often paid in US dollars presenting more logistical challenges to the response team.
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. We work with others 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.