Indian sailors yet to reach Nigeria, contact with crew lost

Indian sailors held captive by Guinea Navy.

New Delhi: The sailors from the detained Norwegian crude oil ship in Equatorial Guinea are yet to reach Nigeria.

The owners of the ship and legal experts have arrived in Nigeria for negotiation, relatives of the crew said. The Nigerian ambassador is likely to pay a visit to the ship as well.

Relatives are unable to contact half of the 16 Indian sailors who were transferred to the Nigerian navy ship. It is suspected that the Nigerian authorities seized their phones.

The sailors are being taken to Bonny harbour in Nigeria. The charges and the course of the trial will be decided only after they reach Nigeria.

The development comes amid concerted efforts by India's External Affairs Ministry and its embassies to prevent this very scenario.

India had earlier requested Equatorial Guinea to let its citizens be brought back to the country rather than to Nigeria. However, this did not happen.

The vessel, MT Heroic Idun, continues to be in the custody of the Guinea Navy.

It was on August 8, when MT Heroic Idun was anchored on the maritime border of Nigeria after experiencing technical snags, that the vessel was detained by Guinea Navy.

The Guinean move came on the behest of Nigeria, which suspected that the Norwegian vessel had arrived to steal oil.

Though the Norwegian company had reached out with a monetary offering to see its crew released, the Navy did not budge.

Of the 26 sailors aboard, sixteen are Indians. Three among them are Keralites - Kochi natives Sanu Joseph and Milton, and Nilamel native Vijith.

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