UK Charge Two Nigerians Over Alleged Vessel Hijack

Yemisi Izuora

The United Kingdom has charged two Nigerians to court over alleged hijack of an oil tanker in the English Channel.

The two Nigerians were identified as Matthew John Okorie, 25 and Sunday Sylvester, 22.

Both men were charged with endangering the Nave Andromeda and appeared at Southampton Magistrates’ Court. The suspects were part of a group of seven Nigerians who were arrested after being discovered on board an oil tanker on October 25, the Daily Mail reports.

The ship, the Nave Andromedia which set sail from Lagos, was approaching Southampton, Hampshire, its destination when the men were discovered. Subsequently, their discovery led to a standoff after the captain put out a mayday call.

Violence started when crew members found the stowaways and tried to lock them in a cabin; prior to handing them to Border Force at Southampton.

The two Nigerians were charged with an offence relating to conduct endangering ships under section 58 Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

They are expected to appear at a crown court next month.

The five other men who were arrested on suspicion of seizing or exercising control of a ship by use of threats or force – remain on police bail.

”Two men have been charged and appeared in court (December 26) as part of the ongoing Hampshire Constabulary led investigation into the maritime security incident that took place on board the Nave Andromeda. The two men, Matthew John Okorie, 25 and Sunday Sylvester, 22, have been charged with an offence relating to conduct endangering ships under section 58 Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

”They appeared before Southampton Magistrates’ Court… and have been remanded in custody. They will next appear at Southampton Crown Court on January 29, 2021,’’ a Hampshire Constabulary spokesperson said.

”Five other men, who were arrested on suspicion of seizing or exercising control of a ship by use of threats or force; remain on police bail until January 25, 2021 whilst Hampshire Constabulary’s investigation continues.

”They are currently detained under Border Force powers,” the spokesperson added.

The hijack of the ship had led to a tense 10-hour stand-off.

Commandos from the UK Special Boat Service (SBS) had stormed the 42,000 tonne ship. They succeeded in re-claiming it in just seven minutes. It was originally suggested that the tanker had been hijacked. However, lawyers representing the owners of the vessel said the incident was ‘100 per cent not a hijacking’.

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