5 sailors abducted in Nigeria set to return to India today
Five Indian sailors kidnapped from a ship in Nigeria earlier this year, will return to Mumbai, India today following their release. This was disclosed by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs on Sunday.
The five sailors were kidnapped by pirates in Nigeria from the vessel MT Apecus on April 19. They spent over 70 days in captivity. They were, however, released by their captors on June 27th and reached safe custody. Their release was facilitated through a joint effort by the Nigerian government and the Indian External Affairs Ministry.
“Our seafarers on MT Apecus – Sudeep, Chirag, Avinash, Ankit and Ravi, who have been released from captivity in Nigeria, are returning to Mumbai tomorrow,” TS Tirumurti, Secretary (Economic Relations) Ministry of External Affairs revealed on Sunday.
Also expressing his delight at the development was the Indian Minister of State for Shipping, Mansukh Mandiviya.
“I am happy to share that due to sustained efforts of various stakeholders including Ministry of Shipping, the Directorate General of Shipping and the High Commission of India, Abujam, Nigeria, the kidnapped India seafarers were successfully released and have reached the safe custody of the authorities,” Mandaviya submitted.
In the wake of the kidnapping of the Indian sailors, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) had issued a statement accusing the Palau flagged Tanker of conducting trading activities in Nigerian waters since 2014 without permit,
Nevertheless, the agency said it was committed to rescuing the abducted seven crew, comprising five Indian nationals and two other individuals of unspecified nationality.
This it said was being done in collaboration with the Nigerian Navy, the Indian High Commission in Nigeria and other security agencies.
It was reported that before it was hijacked, the vessel was spotted in Lome, Togo on the 26th of February, 2019 for an hour. It was also seen in Tema, Ghana for two hours on the 27th of February, 2019. Further, it was also located at Lagos anchorage for 29 minutes on 2nd April 2019 until her eventual hijack on the 19th of April.
Reports also indicated the vessel was in the habit of switching off her Automatic Identification System (AIS). This was in order to avoid detection and had done the same thing prior to being attacked. The development had made locating her whereabouts extremely difficult.