Sri Lankan and Indian envoys have reportedly met the crew from the two nations who were detained along with the vessel dubbed M/T Heroic IDUN, based in Nigeria.
Velupillai Kananathan, Sri Lankan High Commissioner based in Kenya, along with India’s diplomat visited the Indian and Sri Lankan crew members earlier in the week.
Sri Lanka’s Foreign Affairs Ministry mentioned that the High Commissioner who has recently met the detainees has confirmed that the crew members from Sri Lanka were in great health.
Nigeria’s Navy is offering enough security and assistance onboard, including medical, food, and recreational services, the Foreign Ministry mentioned.
It also mentioned that Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner met the crew along with the High Commissioners/diplomats from Poland, India, and the Philippines.
On 12 August, authorities of Equatorial Guinea detained 26 members of the crew, including 16 from India, eight from Sri Lankan, a Filipino, and a Pole of the large crude carrier on a request by Nigeria’s Navy. They were reportedly suspected of entering Nigeria’s Maritime Environment on 7 August without any clearance.
Per ship owners, the Heroic IDUN had entered Nigeria’s AKPO terminal on 8 August to load a cargo comprising crude oil, but the loading activity had been delayed.
However, at night, an unidentified craft that claims to be Nigeria’s Navy approached the vessel and asked the crew to proceed with them. Unable to recognize the craft owing to the darkness and fearing for the safety and security of crew members, the vessel sailed at full speed from the location.
Three days later, the vessel was detained by a naval vessel that belonged to Equatorial Guinea per the direction of Nigeria.
The crew members who were ashore in Malabo were offered a resolution on 28 September stating the offenses committed and fine to be paid. Hoping for an early release of the crew, the ship owners paid the fine within a week but the members were detained further.
The vessel owners kept complaining that despite not being involved in unlawful activities and paying fine, the crew members and the vessel have been kept under arrest.
The trial’s next hearing is scheduled for 11 January 2023.
References: Investing, The Newsmen, Adaderana