Nigerian military officials arrested 1,610 pirates, militants and criminals in the West African Niger Delta during 2015, maritime security company Protection Vessels International (PVI) said citing Operation Pulo Shield (OPS) officials.
The arrested people were suspected of piracy, illegal bunkering and kidnapping in the region.
Furthermore, security forces seized 50 oil vessels, 200 barges and weapons during the raids.
According to the officials, security operations started a sharp increase in September 2015.
“The announcement comes amid uncertainty over the future of the amnesty agreement between the president and former militants in the region,” PVI said.
Former militants staged protests on December 14 in Warri, Delta State, amid reports the government was planning to cut the amnesty budget.
PVI added that such a move could see ex-militants return to piracy and organised crime in the region.
The Niger Delta had a quiet five months until October 2015, when armed pirates attacked and boarded a refrigerated cargo ship and kidnapped four crew members.
This incident took place further west than earlier kidnappings, showing signs that criminal gangs are expanding their area of operation, according to UK-based maritime intelligence company Dryad Maritime.
In 2014 alone, six attacks on vessels were reported and 13 crew members were abducted in the area for the purpose of ransom.
World Maritime News Staff