By Stephen Ubanna
The negative report about the activities of Pirates in Nigerian water ways and the Gulf of Guinea , by the International Maritime Organisation, IMO, appears to have portrayed the country in a very bad light in the Comity of nations. This is evident to what happened on May 5, 2019, to MV. CHRIS, the country’s fully flagged vessel.
The vessel , according to Isechei Osamgbi, a Deputy Director, in-charge of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Public Relations Department, had been attacked by suspected suspects but the vessel and the crew were, however, rescued on the quick intervention of a Spanish Naval vessel within the vicinity. The Spanish Naval patrol team was said to have handed over the vessel to the Equatorial Guinea Navy to ensure their protection.
Teodoro Nguema Obiang, the country’s Vice President, may not have been properly briefed about how the Nigerian flagged vessel and the Crew , found their way to the country waters, than for him to go on air to announce that ten sea pirates of Nigerian origin were arrested in connection to the attack on MV. BLUE MARLIN, a foreign vessel. NIMASA sources informed The Value News that the Nigerian flagged vessel was a not pirate crewed vessel used for nefarious activities in Nigeria waters and the Gulf of Guinea but a tugboat , which was on its way to ”execute a vessel recovery contract in Equatorial Guinea territorial waters before it was attacked by unknown assailants.
It was learnt the vessel had already been commandeered by the suspected attackers and used to attack a much bigger Maltese flagged vessel, MV. BLUE MARLIN around the same area of the initial attack on My5, 2019. It was gathered that the distress call sent out by the Captain of the Maltese flagged vessel , MV. , saved her from being hijacked as the Spanish Navy responded to the call .
Despite the circumstances that led to the handing over of the Nigerian flagged vessel to the Equatorial Guinea Navy by the Spanish Navy, the vessel was detained including the crew members , forcing Dakuku Peterside, Director General, NIMASA, , Toko Ali Gongulong, the country’s Ambassador to the Central African country and seyi Oladipo, a Navy Captain, and the country’s Defense attaché to intervene facilitate the release of the vessel and its Crew from the country’s police custody.
The intervention of NIMASA and the Embassy may have saved the situation from degenerating into a diplomatic war between the two countries as Nigeria could not take it. President Muhammadu Buhari may have been waiting to get a Confidential report from Gongulong, the country’s Ambassador before knowing the next line of action to take in dealing with the situation.
Many believe that but for the IMO, global reports in its first and second quarter of 2018, describing Nigerian waters as unsafe to voyaging vessels because of the activities of pirates , there is no way the Central African country would have summoned up courage to see a Nigerian flagged vessel in their waters and arrest it without reaching out to the country ‘s maritime Regulatory agency. This may have called for