A Nigerian oil vessel, christened “African Prince”, has been jointly seized by the Ghanaian Air Force and Navy in Tema. A 39-year old Nigerian, the chief cook of the vessel, was found dead on board.
According to agency reports, the vessel, carrying 5,200 metric tonnes of suspected stolen fuel was intercepted at about 15 nautical miles within Ghanaian territorial waters.
A military intelligence source told newsmen in Tema on Thursday that the vessel, which operates from Lagos to the Niger Delta, carried on board a 28-member crew made up of 22 Nigerians and six Palestinians.
Agency reports say the body of the dead cook had been deposited at a police hospital’s mortuary for autopsy.
Reports indicated that the Ghanaian military had a tip-off from an international marine intelligence agency called Personal and the Indemnity Club, of an alleged hijacking of the vessel.
A source said, acting upon the tip-off, the Ghanaian Air Force managed to locate the ship, and informed the country’s navy which quickly dispatched two naval ships for operation.
The source said upon interrogation, the crew claimed that the vessel was allegedly hijacked by 11-armed men off the coast of the country's water's.
According to the source, before the arrival of the Ghanaian Navy, all the eleven suspected hijackers managed to escape in patrol boats.
Reports say upon the vessel's interception, it was discovered that the consignment of fuel found on it was alleged to have been stolen from the Niger Delta in Nigeria, and was to be off-loaded in the sub-region.
The ship is currently under tight security at the Tema Harbour Oil Berth Anchorage.
Source: Thisday Online
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