- As Witness affirms: Presidency, NSA approved fund transfers at NIMASA
Two crew members of BOURBON-owned anchor handling and tug supply vessel (AHTS) were kidnapped by pirates off Nigeria on the 23rd of February 2016.
“BOURBON confirms that one of its vessels, the Bourbon Liberty 251, was the object of an attack. Two crew members of Nigerian and Russian nationalities are considered as abducted,” the company said in a statement.
The ten other crew members are back on board the vessel in Onne port, safe and sound, the statement reads.
The French offshore vessel supplier said that an emergency cell has immediately been set up. There was no further information disclosed on the attack or potential request for ransom.
The attack comes in less then a year when three BOURBON’s crew members of Nigerian nationality were kidnapped when the company’s crew boat, the Surfer 1440, was boarded off the Nigerian coast in April 2015. The crew was released on May 8th, however BOURBON did not reveal the terms of their release.
The recent period has seen a considerable rise in attacks in the Gulf of Guinea, with Nigerian pirates resorting to kidnappings more frequently as they abandon oil cargo theft as less lucrative trade.
According to UK-owned risk management solutions provider Protection Group International (PGI), in January there were four recorded attacks on vessels in the area involving kidnapping, a significant increase compared to one per month from October to December 2015. This is attributed particularly to the Nigerian government’s crackdown on illicit refineries in the region.
In the meantime, the Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday heard that the presidency, through the ex- National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, approved the transfer of money to some accounts at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
The agency’s Assistant Director, Financial Services Department, Mrs. Olamide Odusanya, said NIMASA opened some accounts without the approval of the Accountant-General of the Federation.
She said a former NIMASA Director-General, Patrick Akpobolokemi, approved the transfer of over N1billion into one of the accounts.
According to her, the accounts were opened for the use of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) committee, chaired by NIMASA’s former Executive Director, Maritime Safety and Shipping Development, Capt. Ezekiel Agaba.
Odusanya testified before Justice Ibrahim Buba in the trial of Akpobolokemi, Agaba, Ekene Nwakuche and Governor Juan, and Blockz and Stonz Limited, Kenzo Logistics Limited and Al-Kenzo Logistic Limited.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charged them with converting N2,658,957,666 between December 23, 2013 and May 28 last year, to which they pleaded not guilty.
Led in evidence by prosecution counsel Rotimi Oyedepo, the witness said while the Accountant-General’s permission was obtained before NIMASA’s revenue and operational accounts were opened, no such permission was sought or obtained for ISPS’ four accounts.
According to the witness, on June 3, 2013, N60.8million was credited to the committee’s account with Access Bank, and on January 3, 2014, N1, 125,400,000 was transferred to the account based on Akpobolokemi’s approval.
World Maritime News with additional report from Nation