MOSCOW, October 25 (Itar-Tass) —— A vessel with fire arms on board was detained in Nigeria because of the documents being improperly filed, Alexander Chernov, Russia’s charge d’affaires in Nigeria, reported on Wednesday.
“This is not a matter of contraband,” the diplomat said by phone in an exclusive interview with Itar-Tass. “Indeed, there was a certain small amount of fire arms and munitions on board the vessel,” he confirmed. “The point is that the vessel ensures safe passage of convoys of merchant ships in areas of the world ocean where pirates are active. The vessel was bound for Guinea and called at Nigeria for refueling, relieving the crew and replenishing water and food supplies,” he said.
“The documents for arms were improperly filed,” Chernov said. “This caused perplexity of the Nigerian side. The vessel was not arrested. It was just detained; the crew are free and have no problems. The diplomat referred to the crewmembers words that they were in a normal psychological state and all was well with them.
“We got in touch with the Nigerian authorities so that the vessel should soon be freed,” the charge d’affaires said. “We believe this was just a misunderstanding.” “If it were a matter of contraband, our seamen and shipmaster would not be free. This indicates that this is just an investigation,” he said.
The charge d’affaires also said that the Russian embassy is in touch with a firm with which the crew of another vessel, recently hijacked in Nigeria, was working. The crew consists of six Russian nationals and one Estonian. “It is the French-Nigerian Bourbon company. “We are in touch with them,” he said. According to the latest information, all the kidnapped men are well. They are all held in the same place and are treated normally,” the diplomat added.
“Efforts are now made to establish contacts with the hijackers. Most probably they will demand ransom,” the diplomat said. He said the French-Nigerian company is optimistic and is ready to conduct a dialogue with the hijackers when they are ready for that. The company expects this will happen sooner or later.