One Month After Hijacking NIMASA Reveals Hijacked Tanker Was Involved In Illegal Entries and Identity Fraud
May 22: After one month of silence over the hijacking and subsequent kidnapping of seven crew, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has stated that it is collaborating with the Nigerian Navy, the Indian High Commission in Nigeria and other security agencies to ensure the release of the Palau-flagged Tanker, MT APECUS (also known as MADINA).
However, NIMASA DG alleged that the tanker had been trading on Nigerian waters illegally and that the ship had changed identities several times. He stated, “Preliminary investigations carried out by NIMASA into the vessel involved have thrown up several unresolved facts. Firstly, the MT APECUS has been conducting trading activities in Nigerian waters since 2014 without any valid permits or documentation”.
He added, “it was further observed that the vessel has changed name and the flag under which she operates on no less than a combined 15 recorded instances with an additional five changes in call sign since 1993 and four MMSI changes which all point to her suspected involvement in illegal activities”.
“Before her hijack, she was spotted in Lome, Togo on the 26th of February, 2019 for an hour, Tema, Ghana for two hours on the 27th of February, 2019 and Lagos anchorage for twenty nine minutes on 2nd April 2019 until her eventual hijack on the 19th of April”.
NIMASA further alleged that “reports also indicate the vessel was in the habit of switching off her Automatic Identification System (AIS) in order to avoid detection and had done the same thing prior to being attacked which had made locating her whereabouts extremely difficult. There is no clarity on her business in Bonny area where the incident occurred”.
Source: Maritime Security Review