Abuja: Nigeria released Indian sailors, who were detained last year in Equatorial Guinea and later in Nigeria, and warned them to carefully conduct their operations and maritime-related activities within extant regulations, according to the statement released by the Nigerian Navy.
On Monday, the Nigerian Navy handed over the documents to the Indian sailors. "The maritime world was notified of the grave infractions of Motor Tanker HEROIC IDUN and her prosecution by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) at the Federal High Court, Port Harcourt on 10 January 2023. It was equally disclosed that the Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC), MT HEROIC IDUN and her 26 foreign crew (including 16 from India, on board) pleaded guilty and elected voluntarily to enter into a plea bargain agreement with the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as make restitution to the Federal Government," the statement read.
The 'Heoric Idun' ran into trouble mid-sea. The sailors have been detained since mid-August. The ship which was scheduled to pick up a shipment of oil from Nigeria was approached by an unknown and unidentified vessel claiming to be from the Nigerian navy while waiting to pick up their shipment. Suspecting piracy, the ship moved away into international waters. It is alleged that they were detained by the Navy of Equatorial Guinea from international waters.
As per the statement, later on, the owners of the vessel apologized to the Nigerian government on the LLOYDS List on 12 May. The vessel regretted the false pirate attack alarm she raised on August 7, 2022, which was in clear defiance of the State being that she disobeyed the orders of Nigerian Navy Ship GONGOLA after an attempt to load crude oil without appropriate approvals from NNPCL and the necessary security clearance.
"The subsequent transfer of the ship from Equatorial Guinea after she had escaped Nigerian waters and her prosecution under the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act, 2019 further demonstrates the Nigerian Navy's practical commitment to ensure that only valid and authorized vessels are allowed to carry out export of crude oil or gas at the various oil terminals and this is with a view to enhancing energy security governance in the country for improved national prosperity as directed by the FGN," according to the statement.
"Pertinently, MT HEROIC IDUN having fulfilled all the aforementioned conditions of the plea bargain to the satisfaction of the Federal High Court has been released today Saturday 27 May 2023 to its owners, Idun Maritime Limited with the consent of the court and approval of the FGN," the statement read.