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Ambassador, NIMASA facilitate release of Nigerian Crew, hijacked vessel in Equatorial Guinea

The Nigerian-flagged vessel,
MV CHARIS, which was attacked by unknown assailants on May 5 and subsequently
rescued by the Spanish Navy and handed over to Equatorial Guinea, has been

The release of the vessel on Wednesday, 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.  
Meanwhile, a clearer light on
the details of the incident involving the Nigerian-flagged vessel, MV CHARIS,
has now emerged. MV CHARIS is a tugboat, which was on its way to execute a
vessel recovery contract in Equatorial Guinean territorial waters, when it was
attacked by unknown armed assailants on Sunday, May 5, 2019.
The vessel was commandeered
by the attackers and used to attack the much larger Maltese-flagged vessel, MV
BLUE MARLIN, around the same area of the initial attack. However, in the latter
case, the Captain of MV BLUE MARLIN was able to send a distress call, which was
responded to by a Spanish Navy vessel.
It was the intervention of
the Spanish Navy that stopped the attack, as the attackers took to their heels
at the approach of the naval ship. 
The fate of some of the assailants is still
Both MV BLUE MARLIN and the
MV CHARIS were subsequently 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 MARLIN 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.
The eventual release of MV
CHARIS and its crew was made possible by the joint effort of the Nigerian
Ambassador, the Defence Attaché, and officials of NIMASA.

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