ABUJA (AFP) – Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, is currently going through “a trying moment”, President Goodluck Jonathan said Monday while launching seven new police helicopters.
“This is quite a trying moment for this country in terms of security,” Jonathan said during the launch of the helicopters as well as 17 armoured personnel carriers and 20 patrol vehicles.
Nigeria is battling a raft of security challenges including an Islamist insurgency, piracy and frequent kidnappings of foreigners as well as nationals.
“We have challenges from the south to the north, from the east to the west,” Jonathan said.
The Boko Haram Islamist insurgency is estimated to have cost more than 3,000 lives since 2009, including deaths caused by the security forces.
Last Thursday, pirates stormed a cargo ship off Nigeria’s oil-producing southern coast, kidnapping five foreign sailors and stealing cash, a watchdog and a security source said Monday.
The International Maritime Bureau said “14 heavily armed pirates” boarded the vessel 45 nautical miles off the Nigerian town of Brass.
The Gulf of Guinea, which includes the waters off Benin, Nigeria and Togo, is as emerging piracy hub, where the number of attacks has risen for three consecutive years.
Kidnapped foreigners are often released following a ransom payment.
The pirates have also stolen crude oil from ships servicing Nigeria’s oil industry, the world’s eighth largest..