The Nigerian Navy, popular as NN, welcomed the arrest of MT HEROIC IDUN after it resisted initial arrest by the NN by claiming that sea pirates had attacked it.
The Nigerian Navy’s Director of Information, DINFO, Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, who declared this on 17 August, explained that the arrest of the vessel, who refuted the fake claims by the vessel, was welcoming news in the light of collaboration and cooperation among the Gulf of Guinea countries to get rid of the region of the unwanted pirates.
The fact Daily reports that the International Maritime Bureau, or the IMB, had, in its report shared in March this year, delisted Nigeria from the list of piracy-prone nations after a consistent decline in cases of sea robbery and pirate attacks within its maritime domain, leading to enhanced shipping activities in Nigeria’s waters with an attendant positive effect on the country’s economy.
Explaining the circumstances that led to the successful arrest of the MT, Ayo-Vaughan mentioned that the vessel, which on 7 August, had arrived at the Total Safe Anchorage run by the Akpo Oil Field for loading activities, was interrogated by the Nigerian Navy and found to be lacking NNPC due clearance for loading.
MT HEROIC IDUN went on for loading on 8 August at Akpo’s Single Buoy Mooring (SBM).
The NNS GONGOLA stopped the vessel from moving any further for not producing NNPC clearance papers for loading. MT HEROIC IDUN’s captain refused to cooperate, stating that the vessel’s agent ordered him, Messrs Inchcape Shipping (the owner of IDUN Maritime Limited), not to obey any directive from the Nigerian Navy.
The VLCC reportedly resisted the arrest when it was asked to stop. It reportedly escaped toward the Nigeria–São Tomé and Príncipe Joint Development Zone Area. She reported an encounter with NNS GONGOLA as a pirate attack or sea robbery on multiple international maritime security watch platforms.
This alarm of the fake sea robbery/pirate attack was revealed and refuted by Rear Admiral Istifanus Albarra, the head of the Regional Centre for Maritime Security for West Africa, Abidjan. He also mentioned that a report was received from Zone E of the Multinational Maritime Coordination Centre (MMCC) on an attempted boarding of a Tanker between 10–15 Nm of Nigeria’s Akpo oil field.
Albarra confirmed that the Vessel, a VLCC registered with the Marshall Island, HEROIC IDUNIN, allegedly entered the Nigerian waters to load crude from the Akpo offshore oil terminal and that the NN dispatched a vessel to go and inspect, following the receipt of intelligence that the vessel was lacking the necessary approval to load crude from the terminal. Albarra confirmed that the Nigerian Navy Investigation via radio communication with the tanker disclosed that the Tanker did not have the necessary documentation.
Per NN’s Director of Information, the Head of CRESMAO reportedly confirmed the refusal of the Captain of the Tanker to cooperate but altered the course toward Sao-Tome and Principe and deliberately raised a fake alarm to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) to declare that she was under a pirate attack. The IMB broadcasted this information to relevant stakeholders and authorities.
The Admiral says that it is important that incidences of piracy reported by the vessels should be cross-checked with relevant authorities (especially with the Yaounde Architecture). This is so that no fake alarms are raised, especially when the Gulf of Guinea maritime domain has noted a massive reduction in the number of maritime incidences compared to the case two years back. The IMB, therefore, is entreated to cancel such an alert broadcast, coordinate with relevant authorities, and share authentic information.
Ayo-Vaughan added that MT HEROIC IDUN was reportedly arrested by the Equatorial-Guinean Navy on 12 August, four days after the supertanker assumed the vessel had managed to evade the arrest Nigerian Navy, and also raised the fake alarm of an unreal robbery/pirate attack.
The occurrence again reaffirms the renewed regional collaboration, promise, and coordination toward a safe Gulf of Guinea maritime domain that will boost the development and expansion of a sustainable blue economy with the realization of the goals of the Yaoundé Architecture.
It’s a strict warning to criminals, sponsors, and associated connivers that the Nigerian Navy will not leave any stones unturned in establishing the security of Nigeria’s Maritime Environment (NME) and the observance of due process and extant regulations by maritime stakeholders within the NME.
References: Leadership, The Fact Daily, Shipping Position