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Report: Attempted Iranian hijacking in Gulf of Oman thwarted by vessel’s crew

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Report: Attempted Iranian hijacking in Gulf of Oman thwarted by vessel’s crew
Report: Attempted Iranian hijacking in Gulf of Oman thwarted by vessel’s crew

The tanker “Thalassa Desgagnes,” now known as “Asphalt Princess,” July 4, 2010. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

The crew of the “Asphalt Princess” disabled the engines after the ship was boarded by Iranian gunmen, preventing it from being diverted to the Islamic Republic.

The attempted Iranian hijacking of a tanker vessel in the Gulf of Oman that began on Tuesday was thwarted by the ship’s crew, who disabled its engines, preventing it from being diverted to Iran, according to a report in The Times.

The hijackers fled the ship on Wednesday as it was approached by U.S. and Omani warships.

The first sign that something was amiss came on Tuesday evening, when the Automatic Identification System trackers of six tankers off the coast of Fujairah simultaneously announced that they were “not under command,” according to AP.

Shortly afterward, Oman’s military received a report that the Panama-flagged Asphalt Princess had been hijacked in that area, and dispatched maritime patrol aircraft and naval vessels.

In a maritime radio recording shared with AP by commodities-pricing firm Argus Media, a crew member can be heard telling the Emirati coast guard that armed Iranians had boarded the tanker.

“Iranian people are on board with ammunition,” the crew member says.

“We are … now, drifting. We cannot tell you our exact ETA to Sohar,” the vessel’s listed port of destination in Oman. The call cuts off shortly afterwards.

Satellite tracking data showed the ship heading toward Iranian waters early on Wednesday, before stopping and changing course for Oman, according to AP.

The incident comes amid heightened tensions in the Arabian Sea following a fatal drone attack on an Israel-linked oil tanker off the coast of Oman on July 29.

On Wednesday, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid named Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ drone command as being behind the attack on the Mercer Street, in which two crewmen were killed, one British and one Romanian.

Also read: Tanker hijacked in Gulf of Oman. Really? UPDATE

During a briefing to ambassadors of U.N. Security Council member states at the Israeli Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, Gantz said, “For the first time, I will also expose the man who is directly responsible for the launch of suicide UAVs; his name is Saeed Ara Jani, and he is the head of the IRGC’s UAV command.

The UAV command conducted the attack on the Mercer Street. Saeed Ara Jani plans and provides the training and equipment to conduct terror attacks in the region.”

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan called on Tuesday for the U.N. Security Council to “condemn and sanction” Iran for the attack, echoing a call by Gantz the day before.

During a Knesset address on Monday, Gantz said that Iran’s aggression “in the region in general and in the naval front specifically is getting worse.”

In the last year alone, he said, “there were no fewer than five attacks by Iran against international shipping, some conducted with suicide unmanned aerial vehicles produced by the Iranian military industry. Iranian drones also struck Saudi oil-production facilities.”

The Israeli-managed “Mercer Street” oil tanker, struck by what U.S. experts say was an Iranian drone in the Arabian Sea on July 29, 2021. Credit: Johan Victor/MarineTraffic.

In the wake of the Mercer Street attack, he said, “there must be acts now against Iran, which is not only striving for nuclear weapons but also leading to a dangerous arms race.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that there would be a “joint response” to the incident, which he called a “direct threat to freedom of navigation and commerce.”

Iran has denied any involvement in either attack, with Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh on Tuesday describing the recent maritime attacks in the Arabian Sea as “completely suspicious,” according to AP.

 

 

 

 

– JNS

 

 

 

Maritime

SOAN Inaugurates New Leadership, Boosting Hopes Of Crushable Inflation

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SOAN Inaugurates New Leadership, Boosting Hopes Of Crushable Inflation

…Sonny Eja is President, Ekere is 1st Vice President; Iroghama Ogbeifun is Chairman, Technical Committee

When Air Peace made its innocent maiden flight from Nigeria to London on March 30, 2024, the symbolical flight achieved two things: first, it broke the unholy equilibrium fare price amongst available airlines.

Secondly, the gesture sent some powerful signals to the entrenched operators, that a determined indigenous operator has finally berthed; and momentarily, the extortionate fare crashed…! Now, if we should replicate this very gesture in the maritime, with a provision of a ‘national’, but privately run vessels/ carriers, how far or fast would carriage charges crash?

The Air Peace has silently made a deafening statement: no amount of plea would crash prices, except the nation can assertively provide a functional alternative.

The distance between Lagos and London by flight is about 6 hours and 40 minutes. The distance between London and New York by flight duration is 7h 30m. So, how come the cost of flight from Lagos to London is always twice as much, compared to the cost of flight from London to New York…? 

The answer is simple: Nigeria is an orphan, and there is no effective competition to mitigate arbitrariness. In the maritime sector, however, the country’s fate is worse: shippers are paying twice for cargo freight. Same for handling charges. There was even a time they were paying for as ridiculous a charge as the ‘Weekend’ levy, in the event that you are unlucky to come for clearing by weekends!

 The growing inflation, the poor masses albatross is both artificial and conspiratorial!

First, government’s understanding of the industry is warped and its support, insignificant. The Government functionaries who should assist both the shippers and stakeholders were often either insincere, ignorant or easily cave in under politicians’ pressure. 

No one is as hopeful as the hunter’s wife: she knows her husband did not keep any beast in the forest, yet, she joyfully sings lullaby for the baby on the mat, as she washes the soup pot and grinds the pepper, as she awaits the husband’s return! And the hunter never disappoints.

It is in the same spirit, that shippers would tomorrow, celebrate the inauguration of the incoming President of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria SOAN, Sonny Eja.

Those who know him at close range described him as a highly focused, truly inspired and totally committed investor, who never disappoints. He is sold to the cause of the shipping industry development. 

Unarguably, he is acknowledged as a resourceful long runner, who often is not only self-motivating, but equally enjoys the special ability to motivate others  Some said it is for this reason that he is so treasured, by the SOAN maiden Arrowhead and Nigeria’s foremost shipping magnate, Engr. Greg Utomwen Ogbeifun.

The President, fortunately, will be fully assisted by tested and trusted ship owners, with enviable skills and technical know-how.. promoters 

These include Dr Louis Ekere as SOAN’s 1st Vice President; Mr. Gbolahan Shaba, the 2nd Vice President; Mr.Babalola Adefariti – Financial Secretary/ Treasurer; Mr. Bem Garba –  Chairman, Training & Capacity building Committee; the shipping industry Amazon, Ms.  Iroghama Ogbeifun as Chairman Technical Committee; Ms. Bassey Adie -Chairman, Ethics & Privileges Committee; and finally, Mr. Emmanuel Okene, who is the Chairman, Finance and membership Committee.

The Doyen of the Maritime industry, High Chief Adebayo Babatunde Sarumi once congratulated SOAN for lifting Nigeria off the lackluster club of 10-Percenters. 

Now, the whole nation would probably look up to SOAN, to midwife a ‘national carrier’ and permanently crash the menace of intractable inflation!

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Maritime

Smugglers Altering Vehicles’ Chassis Numbers–Customs

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Smugglers Altering Vehicles’ Chassis Numbers–Customs

Mr Chedi Wada, the outgoing Comptroller of the Federal Operations Units (FOU) Zone “B”, Kaduna says smugglers are now altering vehicles’ chassis numbers in the bid to perpetuate their nefarious activities.

Wada spoke to newsmen on Wednesday in Kaduna after handing over the leadership of the unit to his successor, Mr  Ahmadu Shuaibu.

He, therefore, underscored the importance of public awareness and compliance with government policies.

Wada reflected on the myriad of achievements and challenges encountered during his tenure.

He commended the resilience of his team in tackling the hurdles posed by nationwide border closures.

According to him, with unwavering support from the Comptroller-General  (CGC), Mr Bashir Adewale, saying that they have successfully curbed smuggling activities within the zone.

He said,  “FOU Zone ‘B’ Kaduna is now well-equipped and effectively managed, marking significant strides during my six-month stewardship.”

Wada acknowledged the pivotal role of the media in showcasing the unit’s efforts while urging the officers to prioritize knowledge acquisition and diligent execution of duties.

He said, “Total commitment and dedication have been the cornerstone of my successes.”

Wada also urged  his colleagues to follow suit,  disclosing that with his redeployment to the NCS Headquarters in Abuja, he will work under the Enforcement, Investigation, and Inspectorate Unit

He also assured of his continued dedication to service, WARING smugglers that his successor is an enforcement expert who is prepared to take charge.

Wada expressed confidence in the incoming comptroller’s abilities to build upon the foundation laid, signalling tough times ahead for the smugglers.

Wada’s redeployment marked the end of his duty of combating smuggling and fostering organizational commitment within FOU Zone “B” Kaduna.

It was reported that until his redeployment, Shuaibu was the Comptroller, Ogun I Area Command, Idi-Iroko. 

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Maritime

Q1 2024: Tincan Customs Generates N303.9bn, 139% Higher Than Q1 2023

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Q1 2024: Tincan Customs generates N303.9bn, 139% higher than Q1 2023

Comptroller Dera Nnadi, the Customs Area Commander (CAC), Tincan Island Ports (TCIP), says that the command generated a revenue of N303.9 billion in the first quarter (Q1) of 2024.

Nnadi said in a statement on Wednesday in Lagos that the Q1 revenue generated in 2024 was 139 per cent greater when compared with revenue of the same period in 2023.

In the statement signed by NN Okwara, the Public Relations Officer of TCIP, the customs area commander said that the difference in revenue between Q1 2024 and Q1 2023 was N177 billion.

“The command recorded a total collection of N303.9 billion revenue in the first quarter of 2024, as against N126.8 billion recorded in the same period of 2023.

“The breakdown shows that the command collected a total of N88.4 billion in January 2024 which is 107.9 per cent upscale from the same period of 2023 which was N42.5 billion,” he said.

The customs CAC said further that the command also generated N100.3 billion in February 2024, which is 141. 8 per cent higher than the revenue collected in the same period in 2023 which was N41.5 billion.

He explained that in March 2024, the command collected the sum of N115.1 billion in revenue as against N42.8 billion collected in the same period of 2023.

Nnadi appreciated officers for embracing service delivery for the stakeholders and for teamwork which resulted in an increase in revenue collection.

He said: “The improvement and success is due to the efforts put in place by all units in the Area Command, adding that their efforts are highly appreciated.

“I wish to remind the officers that all stakeholders should be held in high esteem and treated with respect but with due diligence to identify compliant and non-compliant traders.”

He noted that the Enforcement and Anti-Smuggling Unit had not relented in its effort to combat smuggling and all forms of criminality.

The customs boss stressed that under his supervision, the Customs, being the lead agency at the Ports, had through its enforcement unit coordinated several 100% physical examinations in collaboration with critical stakeholders.

He said that these were to ensure that the command was free of any form of non-compliance in line with the international trade cycle.

Nnadi said that, in the period under review, a total of 57 packets of heroin weighing 56.390kg with a street value of ₦902.24 million were seized.

He added that 3612 packets of Colorado Indica weighing 956.772kg with a street value of ₦4.06 billion were also seized.

“All the seized illicit drugs have been handed over to the relevant sister agencies as directed by the service.

“In the past few months, the command has hosted different sections of the stakeholders’ forum – shipping companies, terminal operators, freight forwarders, security agencies, etc.

Nnadi said that the meetings, physically and virtually, have been on modalities to automate communication channels to minimise revenue loss and boost rules of engagement.

“The Command has not relented on its efforts to ensure that its aim is achieved in its efforts to create a level playing field for importers and stakeholders by decongesting the Ports.

“The Command encouraged stakeholders’ approach for the establishment of new terminals and activities have long commenced at the terminals, respectively,” he said.

The customs boss said that in terms of volume (mT) and value (FOB), export trade recorded exponential growth within the same period under review.

“Comparatively, tonnage of goods exported via TCIP increased from 145,906.33 mT in 2023 to 251,679.89 mT in 2024 and represents an increase of 95.3%.

“Also, there is an over 300% increase in the FOB value of the exports from N80.993 billion to N287.79 billion of Q1 2023 and 2024 respectively.

“Exports from the Command include essentially agricultural and other allied products, namely Cocoa Butter, Cocoa Beans, Cashew Nuts, etc,” Nnadi noted.

He commended the Comptroller-General of Customs, Bashir Adeniyi, for his management team and continuous efforts towards strengthening the capacity of the service.

He added that the customs comptroller-general had also introduced innovative methods to perform its statutory responsibilities in line with international best practices. 

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