By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Nigerian Navy has arrested ten pirates who hijacked a Chinese fishing trawler Hailufeng 11, licensed to fish in Côte d’Ivoire.
DAILY TREND NEWS gathered exclusively that the Navy alongside the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) would be handing over the pirates to the authorities today in Lagos for prosecution.
Recall that Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari had last year signed the Anti Piracy Bill into law last year, which seeks to prosecute anyone caught in maritime crime.
The fishing trawler was taken by pirates on Thursday, May 14 in the Ivorian exclusive economic zone with 18 crewmembers aboard – eight Chinese, seven Ivorian and three Ghanaian.
However, through rapid and engaged cooperation among a number of different African states and institutions, the vessel was tracked, and the Nigerian Navy was able to interdict it 140 nautical miles south of the Lagos Fairway Buoy at about 2210 local time on the night of May 16.
When approached, the pirates refused to stop, and the Nigerian Navy’s Special Boat Service, embarked on the NNS Nguru, performed an opposed boarding while underway at 9 knots.
The dramatic rescue was hugely successful, as all 18 hostages were recovered, 10 pirates were arrested, and the vessel was safely escorted into Lagos.
In a week that saw two incidents of theft from vessels at anchor, two incidents of kidnapping off vessels and one suspicious approach across the wider region, the Gulf of Guinea needed a victory.
The alert about the attack was raised and disseminated by local authorities; The coordination was provided by the Yaoundé Architecture for Maritime Security; Foreign navies were not involved, Oil was not the focus of the attack; and Nigeria has new legislation and procedures which may help produce a successful legal as well as operational finish.
Even before the owners of the pirated vessel and Chinese government officials began notifying local authorities in a variety of African states that they believed the Hailufeng 11 had been attacked, the Vessel Monitoring System in Côte d’Ivoire’s Fisheries Ministry had triggered an alert.