The Nigerian Navy announced Friday that it has arrested the owner and the charterer of the mother ship used in the attack on the tanker Maximus off Ivory Coast early this year.
The Maximus, a Saudi Arabian tanker, was hijacked on February 11 about 70 nm south of Abidjan. The Nigerian Navy tracked her movements, along with those of the pirate's vessel, the Dejikun, which was used as an offloading ship for stolen oil from the Maximus.
A Nigerian Navy boarding team stormed the Maximus eleven days later and freed the majority of her crew, killing one pirate in the process. Other pirates escaped, taking two hostages with them.
Flag Officer Commanding of Nigeria's Western Naval Command Rear Admiral Ferguson Bobai told media on Friday that the alleged owner of the Dejikun, Mustapher Gani, was in custody. He was arrested at a border crossing.
The Dejikun herself had been abandoned in Benin; she was recovered and brought back to Nigeria.
“During the celebration of the Navy’s diamond jubilee, the Benin Republic Chief of Naval Staff was here and we were able to fast track the process of bringing the ship here. Apparently when they brought the ship, they were able to get some documents inside and in the course of investigation, they discovered that the owner of the ship is a Nigerian, one Mr Mustapher Gani,” RAdm. Bobai said at a press conference.
“The importance of bringing this ship here is because [the suspected pirates] . . . are about to be prosecuted and the Police needed this vessel as one of the exhibits to be used to prosecute the pirates," RAdm. Bobai said. He added that the two kidnapped crewmembers had been rescued and repatriated.