A gang of pirates yesterday hijacked an oil vessel, SPBrussels, off the coast of the nation’s oil-producing Niger Delta region, kidnapping five Indian crew members in the process.
According to a statement by Medallion Marine, operators of the oil tanker, the vessel was hijacked by heavily armed pirates about 40 miles of the Nigerian coast.
The statement reads in part: “The pirates ransacked the vessel for personal belongings and took five crew members with them on their departure.
“The remaining ship’s company is safe and that the tanker had arrived at the port of Lagos in Nigeria’s economic capital.
“Everything possible is being done to ensure the safe return of those crew members taken and we are working closely with local authorities.”
In a telephone conversation with THISDAY, Director of Naval Information, Nigerian Navy (NN), Commodore Kabiru Aliyu, confirmed the incident, adding that investigations were ongoing.
He said: “When the information about the hijack and kidnap by the pirates filtered in, the Western Naval Command (WNC) under the leadership of the Flag Officer Commanding (FOC), Rear Admiral Ameen Ikioda, was given a directive to handle the matter.
“The command was directed to send a rescue ship to the troubled vessel and ascertain if the ship was actually under arrest.”
Aliyu said investigations would reveal if there was any need to go after the pirates and rescue the crew members.