The Nigerian Navy has arrested a key suspect in last month’s hijack of an oil tanker, MT MAXIMUS off the coast of Sao Tome. This disclosure was made by the Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship Beecroft on Saturday while handing over the tanker to the Managing Director, Super Maritime Nigeria Limited, Rene Von Loenens.
Although the name and nationality of the suspect was not given, it was learnt that the suspect and six ‘pirates’ earlier arrested would be handed over to the police for prosecution at the end of investigation.
Adaji who said the vessel was recovered about 300 nautical miles south of Lagos and very close to Sao Tome disclosed that nothing has been heard on the abduction of two crewmembers (Rohen and Sadiq) by some of the pirates.
“The suspects arrested will be prosecuted accordingly and the ship owners have undertaken to present crew members to come and testify if they are required in the course of investigation.
“The release of the vessel does not signify an end to the prosecution of the pirates that are currently under investigation.
“Preliminary investigations have been ongoing since February 22 in conjuction with international and civil police authorities.
“We have come to a point that we can release the vessel and its crew to proceed on their businesses.
“So we are garthered to witness the formal handover of MT Maximus to the owner of the ship.
“As well as international passports and travel document of the crew so that they will not be further hampered by these unfortunate incident from which they are still recovering.
“The two kidnapped crew members were taken in a boat before the NN ship that rescued the vessel got to the scene. We do not have information of their whereabouts and the navy has not been contacted for assistance,” he said.
While appreciating the Navy for rescuing the vessel and its crew, Loenen said the kidnappers have not made contacts with the ship company to demand ransom or for any other reason.
The pirates had hijacked MT MAXIMUS, a Saudi Arabian oil tanker, chartered by a South Korean company carrying 4,700 metric tons of AGO off the coast of Cote D’Ivoire.
They renamed the vessel MT ELVIS-5, after beating the 18 crew members to submission and holding them captive, until the Nigerian Navy came to their rescue.
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