Chief of Naval Staff Benin Republic, Captain Albert Badou (l) and Nigerian Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ekwe Ibok-ette Ibas (r).

Abasifreke Effiong

The Chief of Naval Staff Benin Republic, Captain Albert Badou has commended the Nigerian Navy for rescuing 11 crew members on a Portuguese flagged container ship in Benin territorial waters.

Coordinator, Nigerian Defence Media Operations, Defence Headquarters, Major General John Enenche, said the merchant ship, MV TOMMI RITSCHER, with 19 crew members consisting of Ukrainian, Bulgarian and Filipinos nationals was attacked by pirates in Benin territorial waters on 18 April 2020.

Enenche said after the ship was hijacked, Benin Navy requested for assistance from the Nigerian Navy in line with the MoU of the ECOWAS Maritime Zone ‘E’.

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The joint operation between the Nigerian Navy and Benin Navy led to the rescue of 11 crew members on the ship on 20th April 2020.

Enenche said in recognition of the role the Nigerian Navy played in the successful rescue operations, the Chief of Naval Staff in Benin, Captain Badou, has expressed gratitude to the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Navy ship OSE under the command of Lieutenant Bilyaminu Umar Abubakar for their prompt response to the incident.

He quoted the Benin Navy to have commended the Nigerian Navy officers for their ‘exceptional bravery and tactics’ in boarding the hijacked ship and rescuing the crew members unhurt.

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The Benin Navy said that the Nigerian Navy’s effort has helped to build confidence in Benin maritime security.

‘From the moment [Nigerian Navy] arrived Benin territorial waters on 19 Apr 20, you demonstrated good seamanship and security awareness in jointly patrolling the sea around the vessel with our Benin Navy patrol boats. This effort prevented further insecurity incidences relating to the vessel and helped build confidence in our maritime security response against piracy in the ECOWAS Zone ‘E’ maritime domain’, Benin Navy said in a letter of commendation to the Nigerian Navy.

The Benin Navy Captain in the letter said the joint operation has further cemented the brotherly ties shared by the Nigeria and Benin Republic, urging the crew of the Nigerian Navy Ship OSE to keep up the good work.