Piracy: The Inside Story Of The Release Of 15 Kidnapped Sailors On Board A Turkish Container ship off the Coast Of Nigeria By Pirates

 By Stephen Ubanna

Bashir Jamoh, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA appears to have  heaved a sigh of relief over the release of the fifteen Turkish sailors  kidnapped by  Pirates off the coast of Nigeria, within the Gulf of Guinea region, on Januaury 23, 2021, in a Container ship, MV.Mozart, owned by Boden Denizcilik  based in Istanbul, Capital of Turkey  .

The Liberia flagged MV.Mozart Container ship Crew members , according to a Statement issued by the shipping Company were released  by  the abductors  on Friday, February, 12, 2021,  in good health and had made contacts with their respective families. The sailors who were rescued after being kidnapped at sea were said to have been brought to Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, on Saturday, February 13, 2021, heavily guarded by Security operatives before being taken to the Turkish Embassy in the Nigerian Capital City.

Informed sources told the The Value News that initially six of the released Crew members were brought to the Embassy while the remaining nine were said to have joined them a couple of hours later. The were said to have been received by by Melih Ulueren, the Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Turkish National Intelligence Organisation , MIT, members and the Embassy officials.

  Boden shipping Co otmpany officials  may  have kept as a closely guided secret the details of how the sailors were released which may have  given curious Nigerians the troubles of guessing if ransom was paid to the Nigerian Pirates and their foreign Collaborators.  

 But a senior Naval personnel who spoke to The Magazine, isclosed that there is no way the Turkish shipping Company could not have coughed out some thousands of dollars to settle the Pirates to secure the release of the sailors in which Recep Tayip Edogan, the country’s President and the International Community  were very much interested to see to their release .

 The Naval officer had  cited the Kidnap of ten Turkish  seamen in 2019, in a cargo vessel, who were said to have been released a month later after a payment of the ransom demanded by the Pirates, noting that the situation may not have been  be different this time around.

 The Naval Chief believes that it may have been the same group  which had attacked  a Turkish cargo vessel in 2019 and kidnapped ten sailors  that may have launched the attack on the MV. Mozart Container ship, another Turkish  cargo vessel. They were said to have demanded for ransom in 2019,  which was s paid to them . Perhaps,given the huge amount made from the kidnap of the ten Turkish  sailors , may have encouraged them to attack MV.Mozart, in January 23, 2021.

 The sad news was that the fifteen released  Turkish Container ship Crew  members who are currently at the Turkish Embassy  will  be going  back to their operational  base at Turkey without their Complete  number.  This is because one of them ,an Azerbaijani, was killed by the Pirates during the  attack thus, sending a message  to the rest  that  any attempt by any sailor  to put up any resistance  would be met  with force.

The Kidnapped Turkish Sailors Released By Pirates With The Intervention Of NIMASA

Recall that three of the Crew members of the Turkish Container ship  had escape alive. They were said to reached the Central African country of Gabon on  their own  and finally  returned to Turkey on January 30, 2021 to rejoin their  family members while awaiting for  the others to return back to Turkey.   

 A shipping Position document obtained from  the Nigerian Ports Authority , NPA, shows that the Turkish  Container ship  , which ran into murky waters  on January  23, 2021, was sailing from Nigeria to Cape Coast, South Africa, some 100 nautical miles or 185 Kilometers, north west of the Island  nation of Sao Tome and Principe.

Prior to the release of the Turkish Crew members by the  Pirates Jamoh, the NIMASA,  Director general  was said to have mobiliesd  all his contacts in the nation’s maritime sector and  the security circles to soften the ground to  avoid  a breakdown of Negotiation between  Boden shipping company  Team from Hamburg, Germany and the Pirates  which may delay the release of the sailors. Note that Boden  Denizcilk which provides technical services to the Container ship may have acted fast  to meet the demand of the Pirates to secure the release of the sailors without keeping them  too long  in their Custody. Until their release to the Nigerian government, they were said to have spent one month in the custody of the Pirates.   

Jamoh: DG, NIMASA, A Dogged Fighter

many believe that the Pressure from NIMASA  and other quarters may have forced the  Pirates  to contact the Turkish  shipping Company on January 28, 2021 for  talks in their undisclosed Location, which  may be in the Central African country of Gabon. People have every reason to believe  that the talks between the two parties was held in Gabon  as the Container ship which was   sailing from Nigeria  to South Africa  was re-routed to the country’s port of Gentil to berth. The Gabonese  seamen  were said to have provided assistance to the Turkish Container vessel to berth at the port,  amidst tight security. The Turkish Container ship was said to have been cited  in September 2020, near Durban , South Africa on a trading mission.

There is no gainsaying the fact that the  Gulf of Guinea, off the Coasts of the West African countries of Nigeria, Guinea,Togo, Benin and the Central African country of Cameroon, is regarded by the International Maritime Bureau, IMB’’,as the most dangerous sea in the world for Piracy’’. It is not surprising why  Levent Karsan, an official of the Boden Shipping  Company had said that ‘’this kind of kidnapping that   happens in the region unfortunately  is completely aimed at getting ransom’’. He is right.

 Given an insider information on the abducted  Tukish Container  ship, officials of Boden shipping Company  had said that ”the vessel was abducted at gunpoint’’ by the Pirates to force the seamen to follow their instructions and not to do anything funny to avoid wasting their lives.

 The direction of the Negotiations between the two parties, which  security Operatives described as very encouraging  may have informed why Jamoh, the NIMASA, Director General, , had informed  Ulueren,  the Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria  some two weeks ago that the 15 Turkish Crew members would  regain their  freedom soon as’’ the agency is working round the Clock to facilitate heir release ’’.

The NIMASA  boss assurance about the possible release of the seamen anytime soon,,   may have gladdened the heart of the Turkish Ambassador,  who in turn  was said to have passed the good news  to Edogan, the country’s President. The Nigerian Maritime Regulatory agency intervention  may have saved  the Turkish President  the troubles of orchestrating  the  officials  since the information became a public knowledge on Sunday, January 24, 2021,  in the rescue of the 15 kidnapped sailors on board the vessel.

Until the release of the  Turkish sailors, on Friday,  February 12, 2021,Edogan, who could not hide his feelings  was said’’ to  have launched  diplomatic efforts  to find the  Crew members that were   kidnapped  after Pirates attack  on a Turkish cargo ship o off the coast of Nigeria in the Gulf of Guinea region in the past in order to  get an insight on how to handle the Crisis at hand.

 He has  his reason. Edogan   believes   that as  the  Turkish Chief Security Officer, it is his responsibility to protect thecitizens  lives and property  both within and outside the country.  This may have informed why he was determined to secure the release of the fifteen MV. Mozart, sailors in the custody of Nigeria Pirates   for almost a month.

   Mevlut  Cavusoglu, the Turkish minister of Foreign Affairs had said  that he had also begun  initiatives  for the abducted  the Crew members  safe return to Turkey. His mind may have been   at rest  that  the sailors are alive, when he opportunity was created for  him speak to Furkan Yaren, the ship’s fourth Captain, who was said to have remained aboard  the vessel  after the Pirates attack.

 Yaren may have given the Turkish President an idea of where the abducted ship is bberthed when he told him that he had been cruising blindly  towards Gabon, a country in the African Continent, but with damage  to the ship’s  control system . He was said to have made him to understand   that ‘’only  the radar  of the ship was working which was not too good as it exposes the ship to danger.   The Turkish President discussionS with the MV.Mozart fourth Captain may have given him hope that the Crew members will return to the country soon as assured by Jamoh, the NIMASA, Director General.

Ulueren, the Turkish Ambassador, who may have spoken the mind of Edogan, the country’s President had said that they could finally ”stop worrying over the release of the sailors”. The expression on the Turkish Ambassador’s face at the Embassy is very revealing. ”We are very happy to see our Citizens among us in good health”, he had said.

The frequent attacks on ocean going vessels by Pirates in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea by Pirates over the past five years may have brought NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy,  under the close watch of , Ibok Ekwe- Ibas,  a retired Vice Admiral and a  former Chief of Naval Staff and now, a Non Career Ambassador, closer to plan on the way forward on how to deal decisively with the Pirates and make Nigeria a waters and the Gulf Guinea safe for ocean going vessels.

Lim: Secretary General, IMO, Asked To Take A Decisive Action To Stop The Frequennt Pirates Attacks In The GG

  Zubairu Gambo, a Rear  Admiral, and the new Chief of Naval Staff, may have continued from where rtd Vice Admiral-Ekwe- Ibas,  had stopped. The good news  is that NIMASA, under the close watch of Jamoh , has maintained a good working relationship with the Nigerian Navy that the leadership of the IMO. has recognized the good work of the agency and the Navy in curtailing the activities of the Pirates in the Gulf of Guinea region.

Kitack Lim, a Republic of Korea born Secretary General,of IMO, had said that if other members countries of the region had put in as much efforts and resources as Nigeria in tackling the menace of the pirates, the situation may not have been as bad as it is now that it has been described by the IMB” as very dangerous in the world of piracy”.

   The International Community, however, would  want the United Nations, UN, and the Leadership of the IMO,  ‘’to take a decisive action  against Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea’’ region to stop the mess and seave Nigeria and other member countries of the region from further embarrassment.

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