The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has disclosed its readiness to fast-track the maritime security architecture, to ensure the release of the 19 sailors who were abducted on a tanker vessel named, ‘Nave Constellation’ on Tuesday. In its first official reaction to the attack which occurred in Bonny. Director General of the Agency Dr. Dakuku Peterside said yesterday that NIMASA is working with relevant partners to ensure the crew onboard are secured and safe.
The NIMASA DG spoke in Abuja on the sidelines of the ongoing National Transportation Summit organised by the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria (CIoTA), stating that the tanker was attacked off the coast of Bonny with 19 leaving nine crew members onboard the vessel.
“The operators of the vessel made contact with NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy and we immediately went to work”, he said.
Giving further details about the tanker’s movement while in Nigeria, he disclosed that the vessel owners had operated for 10 days, within our territorial waters yet didn't establish contact with the Harbour Masters.
He added that, also, the ship didn’t establish contact with the authorities in Nigeria. “However, that isn't an issue because life is more precious than any other consideration. We have also immediately contacted the naval unit around that area and they have gone to work. The Navy has established contact with the remaining crew members onboard the vessel and the nine persons onboard the vessel are safe and the vessel is safe”, he assured.
The DG who lamented that this is happening at a time that efforts are being put together to make Nigerian waterways safe, gave the assurance that the agency will not rest on its oars. “I think this would ultimately serve as catalyst for us to fast-track what we are doing to safeguard our waterways so that commerce can thrive again and people can do economic activities without fear or hindrance”.
While sympathizing with the victims and their families for the ordeal and challenges of being kidnapped, he urged every concerned citizen and stakeholders to come together and work with NIMASA and relevant security agencies to end the menace.
Shipping Position Daily recalls that pirates boarded the fully loaded supertanker, happened late Tuesday about 77 nautical miles from Bonny Island, a key loading point for Nigerian crude. The vessel had only recently collected its cargo.
The crew that didn’t get kidnapped were able to sail the vessel to a safe location, the Navios spokeswoman said, adding that the company’s priority is the safe return of those who are missing.
The vessel; Nave Constellation, can carry 2 million barrels of oil. It was full when it was hijacked and there was no damage.
Recall also that Nigeria recently hosted a Global Maritime Security Conference (GMSC) with several engagements with stakeholders from all over the world, on the global maritime scale towards enhancing collaboration among maritime nations in order to find lasting solution to the security issues on the Gulf of Guinea and on the entire West and Central Africa.