PiracyTankers

Biafran separatists hijack and threaten to blow up a tanker in Nigeria

A foreign-flagged tanker has been hijacked in Nigeria and faces being blown up with its crew onboard if the federal government does not release Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra pressure group.

On January 24, Biafran separatists gave the Nigerian government a 31-day ultimatum for Kanu’s release, but a spokesman for the tanker’s hijackers told press they “cannot wait” until the end of the ultimatum period before the vessel is blown up.

“We cannot wait till the end of the 31 days to tell the federal government that we are serious. The vessel and the crew are under custody, and any noise, any delay from government, we will blow up everything. We will blow the vessel and everybody in the vessel will go down,” the man, known as General Ben, told Nigeria’s Sun newspaper.

“We are not interested in the country that owns the vessel. What we know is that the vessel was coming to Nigeria to lift oil. We are not interested; once it is blown up, let the country and Nigeria resolve the matter.”

The attackers struck while the tanker was off Nigeria’s Bakassi Peninsula, boarding the tanker from two fast boats. The crew were locked in the vessel’s mess room while the hijackers took control of the ship and sailed it off in an unknown direction.

The vessel is reportedly in ballast and had arrived in Nigeria for loading, but no other details about its name and nationality have been released.

Kanu is currently detained at Kuje Prison in Nigeria. Militants have threatened abductions of more expatriates if he is not released soon.

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Holly Birkett

Holly is Splash's Online Editor and correspondent for the UK and Mediterranean. She has been a maritime journalist since 2010, and has written for and edited several trade publications. She is currently studying for membership of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. In 2013, Holly won the Seahorse Club's Social Media Journalist of the Year award. She is currently based in London.

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