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Crew members kidnapped offshore Nigeria regain freedom

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After 19 days in captivity, the 19 crew members who were kidnapped offshore Nigeria, from a crude oil tanker, Nave Constellation, have been released. The owners and managers of the ship confirmed that the abducted crew members including 18 Indian nationals and one Turkish national, have been released and are safe.
 
Navios Maritime Acquisition Corporation, and Anglo-Eastern Tanker Management (Hong Kong), in a joint statement, said: “All of those taken were released and are now safe and undergoing medical tests and debriefing, following which they will return to their loved ones at home. All those taken are in good spirits and well, given the circumstances of their time in captivity.
   
“Owners and managers wish to thank all the crew members and their families for their courage and fortitude during this difficult and worrying period; also to thank the government agencies, authorities, maritime institutions and specialists, who have all done so much in securing the release of our much-valued seafarers,” the statement read.
   
The two companies however refused to disclose any operational details of the kidnap or release in order not to jeopardise the safety of seafarers still being held elsewhere, or to encourage future criminal events and seizures.Recalled that the Hong Kong-flagged crude oil tanker had departed Bonny Offshore Terminal in fully laden condition, when it was boarded by armed men late on the night of December 3rd.
   
The criminal gang kidnapped 19 of those on board, taking them as hostages; while seven seafarers remained on board and were instructed to take the tanker to a safe position to await the arrival of a security vessel and other support craft. There was no pollution or damage to the vessel.
   
The incident was shortly followed by the kidnapping of an even larger group of seafarers. On December 15, about 20 crew members were kidnapped from a Marshall Islands-flagged oil tanker offshore Benin, marking “the largest kidnapping event in West Africa within 2019.”

Director-General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dakuku Peterside, had assured that Nigeria would fast-track the maritime security architecture to check future occurrence.He alleged that the vessel owners had operated for 10 days, within the nation’s territorial waters without establishing contact with the Harbour Masters.


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Dakuku PetersideNIMASA
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