The Federal Government has formally released and handed over MT Heroic Idun, a very large crude carrier, to its owners, Idun Maritime Limited, after they fulfilled the terms of the plea bargain reached with the government.
According to the Director of Information, Nigerian Navy, Commodore Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, the Very Large Crude Carrier (VLCC), MT Heroic Idun and her 26 foreign crew pleaded guilty and elected voluntarily to enter into a plea bargain agreement with the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as make restitution to the Federal Government.
The plea bargain, according to him was in the interest of justice, the public and for public policy interest in line with Section 270 (5) (a) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015″.
The Federal Government on its part agreed not to further criminally prosecute and/or investigate the vessel, her owners, charterers or her crew in the matter of her crime against the State.
Accordingly, the owners of the vessel have apologised to the Federal Government of Nigeria and have stated that they regret the false pirate attack alarm raised on 7 August 2023 which was in clear defiance of the State.
“The subsequent transfer of the ship from Equatorial Guinea after she had escaped Nigerian waters and her prosecution under the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act, 2019 further demonstrates the Nigerian Navy’s practical commitment to ensure that only valid and authorised vessels are allowed to carry out export of crude oil or gas at the various oil terminals and this is with a view to enhancing energy security governance in the country for improved national prosperity as directed by the Federal Government of Nigeria”, the Director said.
Consequent upon this development, maritime stakeholders, key players and seafarers operating within Nigerian waters are enjoined and warned to carefully conduct their operations and maritime related activities within extant regulations and with due observance of the law.
The Director noted that the Nigerian Navy will not fail to bring to book those whose operation infringe on the provisions of the SPOMO Act and all maritime laws and conventions acceded to by the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The Navy, led by Vice Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo CFR, will continue to collaborate with other Maritime Law Enforcement Agencies, navies of the Gulf of Guinea states, and Nigeria’s strategic partners to ensure that Nigeria reaps the greatest benefit from its vast maritime area’s natural resources.