• Tom Nørring (middle), Danish Ambassador to Ghana, and Rear Admiral Isaac Adam Yakubu (3rd from left), Chief of the Naval Staff, with  Air Vice Marshal Michael Appiah  Agyekum (3rd from right), the Deputy Chief of Staff in charge of Administration at the General Headquarters. With them are Commodore Prosper Modey (2nd from right), Chief Staff Officer, Ghana Navy, and some other officials present. Pictures: ESTHER ADJORKOR ADJEI
• Tom Nørring (middle), Danish Ambassador to Ghana, and Rear Admiral Isaac Adam Yakubu (3rd from left), Chief of the Naval Staff, with Air Vice Marshal Michael Appiah Agyekum (3rd from right), the Deputy Chief of Staff in charge of Administration at the General Headquarters. With them are Commodore Prosper Modey (2nd from right), Chief Staff Officer, Ghana Navy, and some other officials present. Pictures: ESTHER ADJORKOR ADJEI

International Maritime Piracy report misleading — Rear Admiral Yakubu

The Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Issah Yakubu, has said in the past two years, no violent attack or kidnapping occurred on vessels in the country’s waters.

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He, therefore, described as utterly misleading and disingenuous a report by the International Maritime Bureau Piracy Reporting Centre (IMB PRC) last year which portrayed Ghana as the country with the highest piracy incidents globally.

Rear Admiral Yakubu made the rebuttal at a ceremony in Accra last Friday at  which he received two brand new Mitsubishi Pajero vehicles from the Danish government to support the development of the Special Boat Squadron of the Ghana Navy.

The donation is part of the Danish Maritime Security Programme which seeks to enhance regional research, capacity building and convening of stakeholders toward a safer maritime domain in the Gulf of Guinea.
  

Piracy

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) defines piracy as an act of violence or detention perpetrated on the high sea against a ship outside of a state’s jurisdiction of 12 nautical miles off its coast.

Rear Admiral Yakubu said the IMB, for whatever reason, had chosen to redefine piracy as the act of boarding any vessel with the intent to commit theft or any other crime and with an intent or capacity to use force in furtherance of that act.

“Let me state categorically that none of the incidents of petty theft that occurred on some vessels at the Takoradi Port and anchorage fits any of the two definitions,” he said.  

He added that the UNCLOS definition of piracy made the crime one of universal jurisdiction, so any state could respond to a piracy incident anywhere it occurred on the high seas.

The Chief of Naval Staff said it was the responsibility of every vessel to keep proper watch on board to ensure that miscreants did not sneak on board to steal petty items and sneak out without being detected.

According to him, what exacerbated the problem was that most of the vessels did not report such incidents to the local authorities on detection but chose to report them to their parent companies overseas, thereby denying local authorities the opportunity to act swiftly on the incidents.

While admitting that Ghana could do more to improve security at the ports and anchorages, he said vessel crews must bear full responsibility for what happened on board their vessels where law enforcement officers had no access, particularly where no violence nor the threat of it was involved.

“It is like leaving your front door open and blaming the police when thieves sneak in to steal your belongings,” he said.

The IMB report

In the 2022 report, Ghana and Angola rose to the top of the list of countries reporting piracy incidents in the Gulf of Guinea.

The data indicated that the Takoradi and the Luanda anchorages were both included in the IMB PRC's list of worldwide ports with three or more reported incidents of piracy in 2022, with more than two-thirds of the events occurring while ships were anchored or berthed.

Ghana was ranked highest in percentage of incidents – 33 –  with Angola scoring 24 per cent, according to the IMB PRC.

The report, however, pointed out that the increased presence of naval vessels and cooperation between coastal authorities in the Gulf of Guinea continued to positively impact the piratical activities reported in Africa.
 

Collaboration

Rear Admiral Yakubu said efforts by the Ghana Navy, in collaboration with other agencies, to nip piracy in the country’s waters in the bud over the last two years included close collaboration with international partners in capacity building and information sharing, increased presence at sea and the deployment of armed guards on fishing vessels.

The support from the Danish Government, he said, demonstrated the strong partnership which had contributed significantly to the fight against piracy and other maritime crimes in Ghana.

He gave an assurance that all the equipment received from the Danish government, including the vehicles, would be put to very good use and properly maintained.

The Danish Ambassador to Ghana, Tom Norring, who presented the vehicles on behalf of his government, said the support proved genuine cooperation between the two countries, with a common aim, even though the perspective varied.

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