The actual owners of MV EQUINOX, a vessel whose Captain and Engineer were reportedly kidnapped in Nigeria a fortnight ago, have cleared the air, stressing that neither were their workers kidnapped, nor was he celebrated rescue by some navy operatives a reality.
The owners, SAUNSCAPE INTERNATIONAL INC., in a letter signed by its Duty Officer, R. Paneer Selvam and dispatched to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) and copied the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA)specifically absolved Nigerian waters of any piracy related crimes, at least, as far as their vessel was concerned.
“We are happy to report that our vessel was never attacked by pirates and that the reports on the kidnapping of the Master and Chief Engineer are entirely misleading”, declared the owners, adding that if the navy actually rescued them, then it must have been at the hotels where they kept the duo, pending an investigation the Nigerian Police were requested to conduct on them, after repeated cargo loss!
“What really happened is that, after repeated cargo losses and suspicions of involvement of the Master (Daniel Stefan RADU, Romanian nationality) and Chief Engineer (Sergejs KUZNECOVS, Russian nationality), we decided to sign off and disembark these two persons and to report the matter to the Nigerian police.
“Given the on-going police investigations, both persons obviously had to stay available to the Police. We understand, by the way, that the Nigerian police took their passports to prevent them from leaving the country. From the day there were disembarked from the ship, they were put up in a hotel in Warri, Nigeria through our local agent and at our expense.
“While at the hotel, their movements were unrestricted, except of course that they were not allowed to leave Nigeria. We know that during their stay at the hotel they contacted their crewing agency (Lowlands) and their embassies, and that they consulted a local lawyer.
“We suspect that it was this local lawyer who invented the kidnapping claim in an attempt to better the position of his clients. He also involved the Nigerian Navy, which made a big show of ‘rescuing’ the Master and Engineer from the hotel they were staying at, and then told to 2000 Antwerpen Belgium”, the owners concluded.
In other words, the story is more of 419ers, than that of Piracy!