Nigerian Minister of Interior Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola on Saturday said his government is doing its best to resolve the issue of detention of 16 Indian sailors who were part of a 26-member crew of a Norwegian-flagged crude oil carrier.
MT Heroic Idun was seized by the Equatorial Guinea Navy at the instance of their Nigerian counterparts on August 12. Reportedly, the vessel had on board 26 sailors, including 16 from India, who have been detained since then.
“We are in touch with Indian authorities. We assure all Indians that we are doing our best to resolve the situation,” Aregbesola told reporters on the sidelines of the two-day ‘No Money for Terror’ conference which concluded here on Saturday.
The Nigerian minister also said he had a meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday and discussed several important issues including political, trade and commerce, defence, capacity building, development partnership and consular.
Reports said that Nigerian authorities accused the carrier of entering their maritime limits without any clearance and allegedly attempting to illegally lift crude oil from their Akpo oilfield.
MT Heroic Idun had arrived at the oilfield on August 7 and a day later, a Nigerian Navy Inshore patrol craft interrogated its captain.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had also written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his urgent intervention to secure the release of the crew.
“The delay in release would affect the mental and physical health of the crew members and further stay in the port which is considered unsafe would also put their lives in danger,” he wrote early this month.