The release of the vessel yesterday was facilitated by the Nigerian Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea, Ambassador Toko Ali Gongulong, with the assistance of the Defence Attaché, Navy Captain Seyi Oladipo, and officials of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
Reports had circulated on certain online news platforms earlier in the week claiming that Nigerian crewmen were arrested in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, on suspicion of involvement in piracy activities.
The Vice President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, also went on air, on their national radio, to announce that 10 sea pirates of Nigerian origin were arrested with regard to an attack on a vessel, MV Blue Marlin. It was on this premise that the Nigerian Ambassador, the Defence Attaché, and officials of NIMASA, in a combined effort, moved to correct the erroneous information and thereafter secure the release of the Nigerian crew.
MV Charis is a tugboat, which was on its way to execute a vessel recovery contract in Equatorial Guinea when some armed assailants attacked it on May 5, 2019.
The vessel was commandeered by the attackers and used to attack the much larger Maltese-flagged vessel, MV Blue Marvin around the same area of the initial attack. A Spanish Navy ship in the area, however, came to ship’s rescue and stopped the attack while the assailants took to their heels.
Both MV Blue Marvin and MV Charis were handed over to the Equatorial Guinea Navy by the Spanish Navy, as the incident was clearly in their jurisdiction.
At this point, a misunderstanding of the specifics occurred between the arresting authorities because on arrival in Malabo, MV Blue Marvin was docked for repairs, with its crew treated decently, while MV Charis and its crew were detained by the police under threat of being charged with piracy, whereas they were equally attacked and hijacked by the pirates.