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Nigeria to prosecute ‘rogue’ foreign vessel, crew

MT HEROIC IDUN

As part of its fight against oil theft, Nigeria’s government and Navy have begun prosecuting the crew of the MT Heroic Idun, a vessel that Equatorial Guinea seized and turned over to Nigerian authorities.

The Chief of Policy and Plans at the Navy Headquarters, Rear Admiral Seidu Garba, told reporters that the ‘mischievous’ behavior by MT HEROIC IDUN was intended to destroy the good image of the maritime domain of Nigeria, which we have fought very hard to build and maintain.

The Navy, representatives of the Ministry of Defence (MOD), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Justice jointly addressed the briefing.

According to Garba, the Naval Headquarters briefed the press on the seizure of the Motor Tanker HEROIC IDUN by the Equatorial Guinean Navy on Friday, August 19, 2022.

NewsXtra reports that the Very Large Crude-oil Carrier (VLCC) entered the Nigerian Maritime Environment (NME) without authorization or clearance on August 7, 2022, and went for Akpo Field.

“For the avoidance of doubt, MT HEROIC IDUN (IMO: 9858058) is registered in Marshall Island with an overall length of 336-meters, 60 meters breadth, and a capacity of 3 million barrels. The vessel was spotted by the Nigerian Navy Maritime Domain Awareness facility, and a Nigerian Navy (NN) Inshore Patrol Craft, Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) GONGOLA, probed the legitimacy of her presence in the Total Safe Anchorage-operated Akpo Field.

“Following the interrogation, the Captain of MT HEROIC IDUN duly responded to NNS GONGOLA and further stated that his vessel was without relevant clearance to operate in the Field.

“The vessel was therefore ordered to turn around and follow NNS GONGOLA to Bonny anchorage, pending when she will be cleared for loading by NNPC Ltd. After that, she engaged full speed southwards towards the Sao Tome and Principe maritime area to evade arrest. However, she bluntly declined the claims that her agent had told her not to take directives from the Nigerian Navy Ship.

“Apart from refusing lawful arrest, the vessel’s Captain broadcasted a false piracy attack call to International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre to mislead mariners that NNS GONGOLA was a pirate vessel and possibly concoct an alibi for her desperate action.

“On the piracy alert, the Nigerian Navy also, through international collaboration, alerted relevant piracy reporting centers through CRESMAO and ECOWAS ZONE F Cotonou headed by Nigerian Navy officers for the alert to be canceled immediately was done by IMB.

“Suffice to state that Nigeria has not recorded any piracy attack in its waters in over one year. Hence, this mischievous act by MT HEROIC IDUN was aimed at tarnishing the good image of the maritime domain of Nigeria, which we have worked very hard to achieve and sustain.

“The Nigerian Navy invoked the collaboration of neighboring Equatorial Guinea through the Yaoundé Architecture to arrest the vessel.
With the aid of the Nigerian Navy surveillance facility, MT HEROIC IDUN was tracked. The Equatorial Guinea Amphibious Ship, CAPTAIN DAVID, was therefore vectored to intercept and arrest the fleeing ship on August 12, 22.

“Pertinently, MT HEROIC IDUN was held at the Luba Anchorage in Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea, while the country conducted her investigations owing to some infractions the vessel had also committed in the country’s waters. While these were ongoing, a formal request was made to transfer the vessel to Nigeria as mentioned during the Press Briefing on August 19, 2022.”