Chiemelie Ezeobi

Exactly three weeks after the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Okpabana accosted and arrested six pirates who had hijacked an oil vessel, MT Maximum, operatives of NNS Beecroft have arrested a possible accomplice of the gang members.

Although the identity of the accomplice was yet to unveiled, THISDAY gathered that investigations are ongoing, which would provide more insight as the operations of the pirates.

This is just as the Navy handed over the recovered oil vessel to a representative of the company, Super Maritime Nigeria, Limited, along with the 18-crew members.

The Commanding Officer, NNS Beecroft, Commodore Abraham Adaji, did the handover yesterday at the naval dockyard, Victoria Island, Lagos. Also handed over to the company were 18 international passports, 28 international seamen passports, 16 yellow fever cards, three medical Lakers and one notebook.

On the fate of the six pirates who are still in navy custody, Adaji said investigations were ongoing, adding that they would be handed over to the Lagos State Police Command for prosecution.

He said, the suspects arrested would be prosecuted accordingly and the ship owners have undertaken to present crew members to come and testify if they are required in the course of investigation.

While receiving the vessel, the Managing Director of Super Maritime Nigeria Limited, Mr. Rene Von Loenen, commended the navy for the quick rescue of crew and recovery of the vessel.
Recall that the navy arrested the six pirates, of Ghanaian and Nigerian nationalities, after a gun exchange with naval forces that left one of the pirates dead.

The Pirates had hijacked the oil vessel, laden with 4,700 tonnes of diesel fuel, off the Coast of Cote d’Ivoire on February 11 and held the crew hostage until they were rescued by the navy on February 22.
The arrested pirates, identified as Captain Mike Ogboroma, Ayo Joshua, Marcus Adesoji, Adeyemi Paul, Oluwafemi Samuel and Collins Friday, had renamed the stolen vessel as MT ELVIS-5.

Meanwhile, the two crew members, Rohen and Sadiq, a Pakistani and an Indian respectively, who are currently being held hostage by two members of the gang are yet to be found. In an interview with THISDAY, the captain of the rescued crew, Pillae Krishna said nothing has been heard about the two crew members still being held hostage.