The Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Dakuku Peterside, on Thursday, said the oil vessel that was attacked by pirates in Bonny operated in Nigerian waters for ten days without establishing contact with any agency of government.
Peterside, however, said that the Agency is working with relevant partners to ensure the crew on-board are secured and safe.
Pirates had on Wednesday abducted 19 expatriates on board the vessel.
The expatriates include 18 Indians and one Turkish national.
Speaking in Abuja on the sidelines of the ongoing National Transportation Summit organised by the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria (CIoTA), Peterside said that the tanker was attacked off the coast of Bonny with nineteen persons alleged to have been picked up leaving nine crew members on board the vessel.
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“The operators of the vessel made contact with NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy and we immediately went to work”, he said.
He noted that the vessel owners had operated for ten days, within our territorial waters yet didn’t establish contact with the Harbour Masters.
“It also didn’t establish contact with the authorities in Nigeria. “However, that isn’t an issue because life is more precious than any other consideration.
‘We have also immediately contacted the naval unit around that area and they have gone to work. The Navy has established contact with the remaining crew members on-board and the vessel is safe”.
Dakuku who lamented that this is happening at a time that efforts are being put together to make Nigerian waterways safe gave the assurance that the Agency will not rest on its oars. “I think this would ultimately serve as a catalyst for us to fast-track what we are doing to safeguard our waterways so that commerce can thrive again and people can do economic activities without fear or hindrance”.
While sympathizing with the victims and their families for the ordeal and challenges of being kidnapped, he urged every concerned citizen and stakeholders to come together and work with NIMASA and relevant security agencies to end the menace.