By Chiemelie Ezeobi
The Western Naval Command (WNC) of the Nigerian Navy, Wednesday took possession of a vessel, Motor Tanker (MT) Dejikun, used by pirates in February 2016, to hijack a foreign vessel, MT Maximus.
MT Dejikun, which was recovered from Benin Republic, where it had been abandoned by the pirates, was used by an eight-man piracy gang to hijack MT Maximus.
The pirates had on February 16 hijacked the oil vessel off the coast of Sao Tome, laden with 4,700 tons of diesel fuel, and held the crew hostage until they were rescued by the navy on February 22.
Although operatives of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Okpabana rescued the 18-men crew and arrested six of the pirates, two others were said to have fled in MT Dejikun.
The disappearance of MT Dejikun, was said to have hindered police prosecution of the pirates in their custody, before it was discovered in Benin Republic waters.
While MV Maximus was handed over to a representative of the company, Super Maritime Nigeria, Limited, along with the 18-crew members, the whereabouts of MT Dejikun and the owner remained unknown until recently.
The Flag Officer Commanding, WNC, Rear Admiral Fergusson Bobai, received the vessel alongside the Commanding Officer, NNS Beecroft, Commodore Abraham Adaji, at the naval dockyard, Victoria Island, Lagos.
He told THISDAY that his men also arrested the owner of the vessel MT Dejikun, one Gani Mustapha, along with an accomplice.
He said, “The Benninois navy had discovered the vessel on their waters but there was nobody onboard the ship and they took custody of the vessel.
“When they got the ship, they were able to recover some documents of the ship and during investigation, it was discovered that the owner of the ship is a Nigerian.
“The Navy operatives at the Forward Operating Base in Badagry were able to arrest the owner of the vessel, Gani Mustapha, along Seme Border.
“The person that chartered the vessel from the owner was also arrested. The vessel and the suspects would be handed over to the police for further investigation.”