Ship owner accuses Navy of illegal detention of vessel

23 July 2015, Lagos — An indigenous ship owner and a member of the Nigerian Shipowners Association, NISA, Mr. Osita Onumonu has alleged that his 5,000 tonnes vessel, MT Sapphire 1 and her crew, was detained shortly after it was attacked by pirates.

Oil-tanker-cargo-ship-360x240Osita, Managing Director of Mercury Oil Limited alleged that the Togolese flagged vessel was arrested on February 18, 2014 by the Nigerian Navy offshore Agbara and taken to Fomoso in Bayelsa State.

He explained that preliminary investigations had shown that the vessel was attacked by pirates shortly after it was engaged in a Ship-to-Ship transfer operation, adding that through the AIS of the vessel, the captain was able to alert the Navy, which consequently arrested the vessel and refused to let it go.

“MT Sapphire 1 has been under arrest by the Nigerian Navy, I trade with the vessel sometimes, I take products for individuals and companies including the company doing the bar beach construction.

“One one of such occasions, my company sought for a Naval clearance from the Nigerian Navy for an STS off Agbara Offshore on two badges, we finished the STS and unfortunately we were attacked, in the course of the attack, we alerted the navy, when they arrived the pirates absconded and abandoned the vessel.

“The Navy took over the vessel and did their investigation for one month, they took all my crew and detained them at their base. After this, they came up with their report which they sent to Abuja, after this nothing was done.

“They did not charge the crew to court, they detained them for seven months. When the heat was much, they transferred the case to Nigerian Civil Defense Corps, which did their finding and released my crew and the vessel. They wrote to the Navy to release my crew and disembark from my vessel but they refused,” Osita said.


– Vanguard

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