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Vol 55 No 24

Published 5th December 2014


Nigeria

Danger looms as piracy booms

Distracted by the Islamist insurgency in the north and the coming elections, the government has no effective response to the wave of oil theft and hijackings in the Gulf of Guinea

Crashing world oil prices and next February's elections – in which President Goodluck Jonathan must retain his grip on his base in the oil-producing Niger Delta – could refocus attention on the criminal networks which steal tens of millions of barrels of oil each year. In any attempt to tackle the piracy and oil theft that cost the Treasury billions of dollars a year, Jonathan has to choose: would the costs of cracking down on the vested interests in the criminal trade outweigh the benefits of bringing more revenue into state coffers and restoring some order to Nigeria's coastal waters? Perhaps the practical question is whether Jonathan has either the political authority or the will to crack down on the new piracy empires in the Gulf of Guinea.

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