Oil Vessel Hijacked in Nigeria: Russian, Filipino Seamen Held Hostage


Militants and pirates share these two things in common: Kidnapping and hijacking. To them it is the fastest and one sure way to make quick cash, not minding the implications. An oil tanker was hijacked in Nigerian waters and it had crew members from Russia, Georgia and the Philippines. These men have been held hostage for ransom according to a shipping security expert said.

As reported by Dirk Steffen, the maritime Security Director of Denmark-based Risk Intelligence, the Greek-owned MT Leon Dias was boarded last week by separatists who embraced the freedom of Biafra in Southeast Nigeria, just to permit legitimacy to kidnapping for ransom.

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The hijackers abandoned the ship on January 30, and took five hostages with them, including the Filipino captain and third engineer, the Russian chief engineer and electrician and a fitter from Georgia. A man who identified himself as the nom-de-guerre General Ben, similar to a Niger Delta oil militant, had threatened to blow up the ship with its crew if authorities did not release Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the banned Radio Biafra who has been in custody of the Nigerian Federal government since Oct. 17 2015.

Nigeria’s Navy said the ship is now off the coast of Cotonou, the commercial capital of neighboring Benin, and is guarded by the Navy of the Republic of Benin. The Nigerian federal government has made no comment on the hijacking, which also comes with attacks on oil and gas installations in the Southern Niger Delta believed carried out by militants who demand a share of revenue for southern states polluted by petroleum production.

Militants have threatened new attacks if the government does not fully support an Amnesty program that had indirectly stopped the conflict that killed thousands of lives. Security forces have assured the arrest of some suspects in the sabotage, but did not say how many of them were in detention, or when the hijacked vessel will be finally rescued.

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