Monday, October 5, 2009

Pirate Group Surrender Weapons

Nigerian amnesty should reduce attacks on shipping
Shipping News Feature

NIGERIA – MEND guerrillas have accepted an offer of amnesty by the Nigerian government to surrender their weapons in return for promises of cash, education and the development of jobs and infrastructure for the peoples of the Niger delta.

In a ceremony attended by hundreds of people the senior rebel leader, Government Tompolo laid down his arms. Speaking at the event Godwin Abbe, Nigeria’s Defence Minister, said: “It's an indication that peace has finally come to the Niger Delta. The time has come for us to settle down as a country and find a solution to the problem that led to the crisis in the region.”

MEND have been attacking the Nigeria’s oil industry facilities and seizing vessels and tankers off the coast since they took up arms in 2006. The movement has been largely responsible for the rise in piracy off the delta since it began operations, though its spokesmen have always claimed to be acting purely in the interests of the people of the region.

The acceptance of the amnesty should see a radical drop in the number of vessels being attacked in the area. According to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre at least 37 ships were attacked in the area of MEND operations during the first half of 2009.