By OKOSUN DENNIS
A Saudi Arabian ship hijacked by eight pirates off the coast of Cote d Ivorie, Abidjan has been rescued by the Nigerian Navy.
She was heading toward the coast of Sao Tome and Principe when it was hijacked by pirates of Ghanaian and Nigerian nationals. One of the pirates who engaged the naval personnel on board the merchant vessel in a gun duel was killed.
The hijackers who were paraded at the Naval Dockyard by the Chief of Training and Operations (CTOP) Rear Admiral Henry Babalola were given as: Captain Mike Ogborama, Ayo Joshua, Marcus Adesoji, Adeyemi Paul, Oluwafemi Samuel and Collins Friday.
Immediately the ship was hijacked, the criminals immediately changed the original name: MT Maximus and renamed her MT Elvis to evade arrest and made it impossible to trace.
The ship which carrying 4,700 metric tonnes of AGO was hijacked on the 11th February and rescued on Saturday, 20th February, 2016.
Recovered from the pirates included 2 AK 47 rifle, one pump action gun, six magazines, 10 phones, eight sim cards of different network, one walkie talkie, six live cartridges, two Turaya phones, two back pack bags, assorted currencies, different charms and over 20 international passports.
The Captain of the ship, Pillai Krishna from Indian expressed satisfaction with the excellent professionalism of the Nigerian Navy especially ensuring that no member of the crew was killed.
He appealed to relative agencies to assist in the rescue of the two crew members that were abducted by the pirates.
Speaking with National Daily, the Chief of Training and Operations, Rear Admiral Henry Babalola said the Nigerian Navy deployed NNS OKPABANA complemented by NNS SAGBAMA to carry out the rescue operations with NNS CENTENNARY on standby.
He explained that the acquisition of more scientific way of monitoring maritime environment and the cooperation from other Western navies enhanced the rescue operation.
Admiral Babalola added that while carrying out the operation, they were careful with the use of arms considering that the ship was carrying combustible product.
“Before our men boarded the ship, some of the pirates abducted two of the crew members who were identified to be an Indian and Pakistan nationals.
“When we got on board the hijacked ship which was chartered by a South Korean company, the pirates hid themselves in the engine room. We had to be patient while we ordered the engine switched off. We were able to arrest seven of them,” he added.
It was learnt that naval personnel pursued the criminals for over 300 noutinical miles before they were arrested. They had demobilised all the communication network but unknown to them that the ship had a tracker that was sending signals of their position.
The Captain of NNS OKPABANA that rescued the MT MAXIMUS, Captain E.O Ferriera said they had to take the risk of boarding the hijacked ship despite the criminals being armed to the teeth because they had a duty to save life of the crew.
The Indian Defence Attache to Nigeria, who spoke to National Daily, Captain Gautam Marwaha said the rescue operation is just beginning as the two abducted crew members have not been rescued.
Speaking to the press, the Director of Information, Commodore Ezekobe said the pirates will be handed over to the appropriate authority for prosecution.
Senior officers of the navy present included the Flag Officer Commanding, (FOC) Western Naval Command, Rear Adimral Osondu, the Commander, NNS Beecroft, Commodore Abraham Adaji