The management of C&I Leasing Plc has commended the efforts of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Toko Ali Gongulong, the Nigerian Ambassador to Equatorial Guinea, Defence Attaché, Seyi Oladipo of Nigerian Navy, and the Spanish Navy, for their intervention and timely release of MV CHARIS, which was hijacked by sea pirates in Equatorial Guinea.
Andrew Otike-Odibi, managing director, C&I Leasing, said in a statement that the vessel was on its way to execute a vessel recovery contract in Equatorial Guinea when it was hijacked in that country’s territorial waters by sea pirates.
The pirates, he said, attempted to use his vessel to attack another marine vessel, MV BLUE MARLIN, before they were arrested by the authorities of Equatorial Guinea and detained.
This was contrary to reports that MV CHARIS was arrested in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, on suspicion of involvement in piracy activities.
“MV CHARIS was released on Wednesday the 29th of May 2019, after a series of interrogation and negotiations with the support of NIMASA representatives, Ambassador Gongulong, Oladipo, and the Spanish Navy. The crew then sailed following inspection and repair of the vessel on the 31st of May 2019.
“A misunderstanding of the specifics occurred between the arresting authorities because on arrival in Malabo, MV BLUE MARLIN was docked for repairs, with its crew treated decently, while MV CHARIS and its crew were detained by the police under threat of being charged with piracy, whereas they were equally attacked and hijacked by the pirates,” he said.
It will be recalled that Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, vice president of Equatorial Guinea, had announced on the country’s national radio station that 10 sea pirates of Nigerian origin were arrested in relation to the hijacking of a vessel; MV BLUE MARLIN and this same vessel with another vessel named MV CHARIS were subsequently handed over to the Equatorial Guinea Navy by the Spanish Navy as the incident was clearly within their jurisdiction.
However, investigations later revealed that following the attack on MV CHARIS, the pirates destroyed its communication links, leaving only the SAT Line which was eventually used to make a distress call.
It was then that C&I Leasing reached out to NIMASA, who then engaged all the necessary authorities in both Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea to aid the release of the company’s vessel MV CHARIS.
Thereafter, the company sent a team from its Marine Operations to Equatorial Guinea to help expedite the identification and release of MV CHARIS and her crew.
At a recent visit to NIMASA to appreciate their support on the release of the vessels, Otike-Odibi reiterated that C&I leasing is committed to remaining the most preferred marine partner for International Oil Companies (IOCs), assuring all clients that the company was committed to continuous improvement of security on all vessels in operation.