The Nigerian Navy, Central Naval Command, has arrested some suspected sea robbers in Delta State.
The Flag Officer Commanding, Central Naval Command, Rear Admiral Saidu Garba, stated that one of the suspects was arrested with a weapon.
“The suspects were arrested in connection with the killing of four naval ratings and the abduction of two Russians and an Indian, off the Ramos River’s entrance, bordering Delta and Bayelsa states, on January 2, 2020,” he stated.
Garba confirmed the rescue of the expatriates at a press briefing held at the Warri Naval Base on Thursday.
He said four naval ratings and some of the assailants died in the attack that saw the stealing of a Sterling Global Oil vessel, MV AMBIKA.
Supported by the Commander, NNS Delta, Commodore Ibrahim Dewu, and other naval personnel, Garba added that other attackers, who escaped with bullet wounds, were currently being hunted with the support of local youths in the area.
He stated, “They are on the run. We are going to pursue them like rats. Wherever they go, we are going to get them.
“Presently, we have a few of them and I can assure you that we will leave no stone unturned until we arrest all of them and bring them to justice.
“The operation was swiftly carried out by a combined team of the command as well as the land and air components of the Operation Delta Safe around 10.30pm on Tuesday. “
The FOC revealed that the kidnapped Russians, Roman Dimitriev, 34, and Mikhail Finenko, 31, as well as the 29 year-old Indian, Varunraj Anandan, were moved to Ondo State, where they were rescued.
He added, “The incident occurred around 3.2 nautical miles into the sea between the two states.
“Following intelligence report on the activities of the group and its plans to relocate the victims to Ondo State, military units across the Niger Delta region were placed on red alert, while the criminals were constantly being monitored.
“Around 10.30pm on January 7, intelligence report revealed that the abducted victims had been moved to a location around Awoye in the Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State.
“Accordingly, personnel of the Forward Operating Base, Igbokoda, were alerted to this development and they laid a siege for the criminals.
“In a clinical operation, the NN team rescued the abducted expatriates comprising two Russians and one Indian.
“Also, one of the assailants was apprehended with his weapon and the boat that was used to convey the victims, while other members of the group fled into a nearby creek with bullet injuries.
“They are presently being hunted down with the support of the community youths. The rescued victims have been given medical attention by a team of doctors from the Nigerian Navy Hospital, Warri, and are healthy.
“I am warning criminal elements operating in the Niger Delta to steer clear of the region, as the navy is poised to rid the region of all forms of illegality.
“The rescued trio, who appeared physically fit and unhurt, have expressed gratitude to the navy for rescuing them.”
Speaking on behalf of the freed expatriates, Anandan said, “We spent six days in the den of the kidnappers without food and water.
“Last Thursday in the night, we heard gunshots. Our chief officer raised the alarm and we observed all the protocols.
“The pirates had got our second officer. When the chief officer heard their voice, he had to open the door and asked what they wanted to do.
“The guys were already aboard the vessel. They lifted two of our guys off the vessel.
“It is because of the navy’s immediate response that we are here today, because we were lost in the ocean for six days without food and water to keep ourselves alive. Once they came to the river, the naval team successfully fought those guys and sent them back to where they came from.”