The Nigerian Navy says it has rescued three Sterling Oil expatriates recently abducted by gunmen onboard MV AMBIKA off Ramos River, Agge Community in Bayelsa State.
Rear Admiral Saidu Garba, the Flag Officer Commanding, Central Naval Command, announced this at a news briefing on Thursday in Warri.
Garba said the abductees included an Indian, Varonray Anandan, 29; and two Russians, Roman Dmitriev, 34, and Mikhail Finenko, 31.
Garba, who was flanked by Rear Admiral Ibrahim Dewu, Commander, Nigerian Navy Ship DELTA, and other top military personnel, said the victims were kidnapped on January 2, 2020.
The FOC added that the victims were rescued on January 7 by a combined team of the Nigerian Navy: Central Naval Command and the land and air components of Operation Delta Safe.
Garba said: “On January 2, some suspected sea robbers attacked a Sterling Global Oil vessel, MV AMBIKA, about 3.2 Nautical Mile off Ramos River entrance.
“A gun battle ensued leading to the death of four naval ratings and some of the assailants, while other members of the gang escaped with bullet wounds.
“During the incident, the assailants abducted three crew members of the MV AMBIKA comprising one Indian and two Russians and moved them to undisclosed location in the creek.”
Garba said the Central Naval Command in conjunction with the land and air components of the Operation Delta Safe immediately embarked on a manhunt for the perpetrators.
He said: “Following intelligence report on the activities of the group to relocate the victims to Ondo State, the military units across the Niger Delta were placed on red alert.
“At about 22:30 on January 7, intelligence report revealed that the victims had been moved to Awoye in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State.
“Accordingly, the personnel of the Forward Operating Base, Igbokoda were alerted of the development and lay siege to the criminals and rescued the expatriates.”
The FOC said one of the criminals was apprehended with his weapon and the boat that was used to convey the victims.
He said other members of the group fled into the nearby creek with bullet injuries, adding that they were presently being hunted with the support of the community youth.
“The rescued victims have been given medical attention by a team of doctors from the Nigerian Navy Hospital, Warri,” he said.
Garba warned criminals to desist from illegalities, saying the Nigerian Navy was poised to rid the maritime domain of illegal activities.
“The Navy will not relent until the perpetrators of the dastard act are brought to book,” he said.
While calling on Nigerians to carry out their legitimate businesses, the naval boss said the Nigerian Armed Forces would continue to create the right atmosphere for businesses.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Central Naval Command comprises Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Kogi and Anambra States.