The Defence Headquarters has vowed that some suspected Pro-Biafran militants, who hijacked a merchant vessel off the coast of Nigeria on Friday would be treated as criminals and saboteurs.
The ship, an oil tanker, was said to have been hijacked by militants, who issued a 31-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to release the detained leader of the Biafra, Mr. Nnamdi Kanu.
While some maritime industry sources claimed that the vessel was an oil tanker seized about 160 kilometres off the Bakassi Peninsula near the border with Cameroon, the Defence Headquarters told PUNCH on Tuesday that the ship was seized about 7.5 nautical miles off the Port of Cotonou.
The suspected pro-Biafran militants had hijacked the foreign merchant ship and threatened to blow it up with its crew if the Federal Government failed to release Kanu.
It was learnt that the 31-day ultimatum by the militants was given at the weekend by one ‘General Ben.’
The Director of Defence Information, Brig. Gen. Rabe Abubakar, confirmed the development.
“Well, I can confirm to you that a vessel, a tanker with the name MT LEON DIAS with number 9279927, was hijacked 7.5 nautical miles off Cotonou port. The ship is presently in Benin Republic. It is a merchant ship.
“I must add that on this issue of militancy, there are no more militants now, what we have are criminals. The Amnesty programme has taken care of the militants.
“The military will treat those behind such acts as criminal and saboteurs; the law will take its course; the security agencies will do their job... The country’s interest is above any other person’s interest.”