Seven Nigerian men who were accused of the attempted hijack of a UK-bound ship from Lagos have been granted bail.
The alleged culprits were arrested at gunpoint on board the Nave Andromeda by the Special Boat Service, SBS.
The incident occurred in the British Channel off the coast of the Isle of Wight on Sunday. The hijacking, which attracted global attention, had seen the involvement of the military who stormed the ship.
The men, who allegedly threatened to kill the crew upon discovery, were seized by the military and were arrested on suspicion of hijacking. The offence carries a maximum term of life imprisonment under UK laws.
However, reports monitored in the UK media have it that the Hampshire Constabulary have confirmed that the seven Nigerian citizens have been bailed in relation to the criminal investigation; while investigations continue into the incident
Despite being admitted to bail, the alleged Nigerian hijackers remain under detention. This is in line with the UK Border Force powers in relation to their immigration status.
The Nave Andromeda departed Nigeria on October 6 bound for Southampton. UK authorities believe the stowaways boarded in the port of Lagos through the vessel’s rudder trunk; an opening near the ship’s hull.
When they were found by the crew, the stowaways had no identity documents. It is believed they may have hidden on board the vessel for nearly 20 days before being discovered.
Troops from the Special Boat Service stormed the Nave Andromeda under cover of darkness. The troops embarked on a nine-minute raid and detained seven suspected Nigerian migrants after a stand-off.
The Nigerians had forced the giant vessel to drop anchor 8km off the Isle of Wight.