A private Turkish tanker with at least six Turkish crew members on board has been commandeered on Monday by pirates in the Port Harcourt area in southern Nigeria, Turkey's ambassador to Abuja confirmed.
Ambassador Hakan Cakil told Anadolu Agency that the private Turkish tanker Puli, a merchant vessel designed to transport liquids or gases in bulk, was seized by Nigerian pirate gangs early Monday.
The Turkish crew members, who are working for Turkish Kaptanoglu Navigation company, are in good health and the tanker is now offshore, 90 miles south of Nigerian coast, Cakil informed.
The ambassador said he is in contact with Turkey’s Foreign Ministry, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, and the respective company.
“This area is extremely unsafe and the issue of piracy is very prevalent. We will do our best to secure the release [of the crew members] as soon as possible through legal channels,” he stressed.
Speaking on the phone, Cakil pointed out that in the previous instances of piracy seen in the same area, the kidnappers have generally demanded a ransom.
Piracy activities off Nigerian coast have usually been affiliated with Niger-delta militants who are seeking autonomy from the government in the southern part of the country.