Don’t send us to Nigeria, 16 Indian sailors detained by Equatorial Guinea beg

It was gathered that the Nigerian authorities wanted the sailors repatriated to the West African country.

Equatorial Guinea detained the cargo ship MT Heroic Idun managed by Norway’s OSM Maritime Group in August, and the Indians are part of a multinational crew of 26 sailors.

“The vessel and its 26 multinational crew members have now been detained in Equatorial Guinea for more than 80 days,” CEO Finn Amund Norbye said in a statement earlier this week.

“The seafarers have been treated as criminals, without any formal charges or legal process for close to three months. It is nothing short of a shocking maritime injustice,” Norbye added.

The ship’s crew was sailing to pick up crude oil from Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria before heading to deliver it in Rotterdam, Holland.

Sapna Trehan, the wife of the ship’s master Tanuj Mehta, said at Nigeria’s AKPO terminal, the ship was asked to leave after officials insisted they had no information about their arrival.

As the ship moved towards Equatorial Guinea, it was followed by a vessel claiming to be from the Nigerian navy which alerted Equatorial Guinea, Ms Trehan’s husband told her, adding that the ship was detained on arrival there.

Documents filed in the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea disclosed that the Equatorial Guinea navy followed a maritime code of conduct and detained the vessel on an alert sent by the Nigerian naval vessel.

“The Norwegian [ship] owners also paid €2m ($2.03m; £1.74m) because the ship had not put up the Equatorial Guinea flag when it was in its territorial waters,” Capt Sukhpal Singh, a mariner and friend of the ship master told BBC Hindi.

Ms Trehan said that in the last few days, members of the crew had been separated and her husband’s phone was taken away.

“Fifteen of them have been taken away on the Equatorial Guinea naval ship and the others remain on the MT Heroic Idun, all of them are being guarded by Naval officials,” she said.

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