The Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) Vice Adm. Awwal Gambo, has urged Nigerians and the international community to disregard what he described as the false narrative on the interception of a vessel, MT HEROIC IDUN, by the Navy.
Gambo made the appeal on Tuesday in Abuja while briefing Journalists on the circumstances surrounding the seizure of the vessel.
The CNS, represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Rear Adm. Saidu Garba, said that the vessel was intercepted on Aug. 7, with the support of the navy in Equatorial Guinea after violating Nigerian maritime environment.
“It was headed for Akpo Field without any form of authorization or clearance”, he said, adding that after it was spotted the captain refused to heed to lawful order and attempted to escape.
“The vessel was, therefore, ordered to turn around and follow NNS GONGOLA to Bonny anchorage pending when she will be cleared for loading by NNPC Ltd.
“However, she bluntly declined on the claims that she had been told by her agent not to take directives from the Nigerian Navy Ship.
“Thereafter, she engaged full speed southwards towards the Sao Tome and Principe maritime area in a bid to evade arrest.
“Apart from refusing lawful arrest, the Captain of the vessel made a broadcast of false piracy attack call to International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre,“ Gambo added.
According to the CNS, Nigeria has to quickly counter the false pirate alert.
“Nigerian Navy also through international collaboration alerted relevant piracy reporting centres through CRESMAO and ECOWAS ZONE F Cotonou headed by NN officers for the alert to be cancelled immediately, which was done by IMB.
“Suffice to state that Nigeria has not recorded any piracy attack in its waters in over one year,“ he added.
Gambo emphasised that the mischievous act of the vessel was clearly aimed at tarnishing the good image Nigeria had worked very hard to achieve and sustain in its maritime domain.
“The Nigerian Navy, therefore, invoked the collaboration of neighbouring Equatorial Guinea through the Yaoundé Architecture to arrest the vessel.
“With the aid of the Nigerian Navy surveillance facility, the vessel was tracked and the Equatorial Guinea Amphibious Ship, CAPTAIN DAVID was therefore, vectored to intercept and arrest her at the Luba Anchorage in Bioko Island, Equatorial Guinea.”
Gambo said Nigeria had made formal request and was negotiating to get the vessel transferred from Equatorial Guinea to Nigeria.
He said that Nigeria would not be deterred by the attempt to use social media to mislead the public on the matter.
The CNS urged well-meaning Nigerians and the international community to therefore disregard the false narrative peddled in social media about the vessel. nan