Four Kidnapped Crewmembers Released in Nigeria
The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has reported the safe release of four kidnapped crewmembers of an unnamed tanker as of March 27. The four crewmembers were kidnapped on March 5 by a team of ten armed pirates, who approached the vessel off the coast of Nigeria near Port Harcourt in a black speedboat and boarded with hook and ladder. Non-essential crew retreated to the vessel's citadel, the IMB said, but the pirates kidnapped four. The remaining crew sailed the tanker back to a safe port.
The release is the latest news in a spate of kidnappings off the coast of Nigeria. Consultants PGI Intelligence suspect that declining revenue from stolen oil is giving Niger Delta militants an incentive to resort to kidnapping over other forms of piracy, like cargo theft.
Among other incidents, five crewmembers of the product tanker Sampatiki were kidnapped on March 26; two crewmembers of the Bourbon Offshore OSV Bourbon Liberty 251, a Russian national and one Nigerian national, were kidnapped off Nigeria in late February; they were later released on unspecified terms. Two crewmembers of the product tanker Maximus were kidnapped during the same week as the Liberty 251 incident.
Last week, Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari named Rivers State - the region nearest the majority of recent pirate attacks - the most dangerous in the nation, outstripping regions controlled by the terrorist group Boko Haram.
“Some [Niger Delta militants] said they are ready to drop their arms and join the rest of the nation to build it. But part of them are still sabotaging installations which is making investments in that lucrative area of Nigeria difficult . . . So, the environment for investment is being sabotaged by ourselves, Nigerians. We are doing our best with the military by trying to persuade them to join the rest of the country because in unity lies our strength," he said, speaking to the Nigerian Vanguard.