Five foreigners were taken hostage after an attack on their ship, a chemical tanker, offshore Nigeria, a security consulting company said on Thursday.
The chemical tanker, Leon Dias, was attacked on January 29 offshore in the oil south. The attackers left the boat two days later, taking with them two Filipinos, two Russians and one Georgian.
A former separatist militant known as the “General Ben” has been quoted in the Nigerian media to have claimed responsibility for the kidnapping calling for the release of Biafran independence leader Nnamdi Kanu, detained since October awaiting trial for “treason “.
But according to experts, this kind of attack off the coast, very common in the oil south, are not related to the separatist movement which is claiming independence of Biafra.
Kidnappings of foreign workers and the hijacking of ships are rather the action of militants in the Niger Delta, calling for a better distribution of oil revenues. “It is very likely that the attack on Leon Dias was led by former militants of the Niger Delta. It is very unlikely that these are in line with the Biafran separatists,” said AFP Dirk Steffen, a specialist in maritime attacks for the Danish company Risk Intelligence.
According to Steffen, a ransom is being negotiated, and it can take two to four weeks.
Uchenna Madu of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASOB), has denied any involvement in the attack. “We are not criminals who take people hostage for one reason or another,” he told AFP.
According to Commodore Kabir Aliyu, spokesman of the Nigerian Navy, the chemical tanker is currently in Beninese waters, “scuba monitoring of the Republic of Benin”.
According to Risk Intelligence, at least three merchant ships were hijacked in the area since October.