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30.11.2009 General News

Ghana to return hijacked vessel intercepted by Navy

By myjoyonline
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Government is considering a request from Nigeria for the return of a hijacked oil tanker intercepted by the Ghana Navy.

The vessel containing finished petroleum products was intercepted last week after Nigerian authorities alerted the Ghana Navy that it had been hijacked.

One person was found dead on board while the rest of the crew, 22 Nigerians and 6 expatriates, are assisting with investigations.

Defence Minister, General Joseph Henry Smith tells Joy News government will act based on the advice of the investigative team.

“We've had some discussions with the Nigerian authorities; we've agreed that the vessel should be sent back to Nigeria and they are arranging to bring other vessels to escort the one that was arrested by us,” General Smith told Joy News' Elvis Adjetey.

The vessel christened "African Prince," belongs to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC), and is currently anchored at the Tema Habour Under heavy security. The vessel is said to be carrying in its belly board about 29,000 to 32,000 barrels (6,000 tons) of refined petroleum.

The incident has tasked the Navy to increase surveillance along the coast to the limit as there is a high possibility that it would recur.

General Smith has however dismissed suggestions the incident raises questions about the safety of ships that go through the country's territorial waters.

“Security is very tight that is why we were able to arrest the vessel. Our Navy is at sea; the airforce support the Navy when there is a crisis and they need to come in,” he indicated.

“So security is very tight and we are taking steps to improve on it; as I talk to you now, there is so much happening because of maritime security. That is the new thing we are looking at and a lot of things are taking place to make sure that we strengthen our maritime security.”

Story by Elvis Adjetey and Fiifi Koomson/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana





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