The whereabouts of American sailors abducted by gunmen offshore Brass waters in Bayelsa State are still unknown. In fact, there is unusual silence among security operatives, including the Navy about the location and fate of the Americans.
Gunmen suspected to be pirates on October 23 stormed an oil supply vessel, seized and whisked away the ship’s captain and chief engineer, both from USA.
The victims were said to have been kidnapped from US-flagged vessel, C-Retriever, owned by American oil servicing company Edison Chouest.
But security operatives in Nigeria seem oblivious of the whereabouts of the Americans and the attacked vessel.
A security source said it was obvious that Nigerian security outfits were in the dark about any arrangements to rescue the Americans.
The source, who pleaded anonymity, said the American security outfits including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) were on the trail of the kidnappers.
He said the U.S. would not want to put the lives of its citizens in the hands of Nigerian security considering failed attempts by Nigeria to rescue abducted expatriates in the past.
He recalled the Kano incident in May 2012 where a rescue operation by the Nigerian security outfits turned tragic and led to the killing of a German engineer, Edgar Fritz Raupach, by Boko Haram.
The rescue team stormed the hideout of the kidnappers located in an area opposite the Bayero University, on Gwarzo Road, Kano around 6.30am.
The team was resisted by the abductors who were heavily armed and the ensuing confusion led to the gruesome murder of the German.
The source also recalled the Sokoto incident that occurred in March 2012.
He said a Nigerian rescue team failed to save Christopher McManus, a Briton and Franco Lamolinara, an Italian, two expatriate staff of a construction company, Stabilini Visinoni, held hostage by Boko Haram
“Following the past experience of failed rescue operations, the U.S. won’t allow Nigerian security outfits to coordinate efforts to free the American citizens.
“I can tell you that the kidnappers may have contacted the families of their victims in America and from the conversation the FBI had stepped in to track the abductors,” he said.
When the JTF was asked about the whereabouts of the sailors, its Media Coordinator, Lt. Col. Onyema Nwachukwu, said the incident happened offshore.
“So, it is the responsibility of the navy. It is an offshore incident which is within the Area of Responsibility (AoR) of the navy. Ask the navy”, he said.
But, a source from the navy said information about the incident was scanty, adding that the company of the two sailors had not reported the matter to the naval authorities.
The source, who pleaded anonymity, said for the navy to be efficient, other people onboard the ship and the company of the victims must provide information about the incident.
“Apart from reported abducted two Americans, there are other people in the ship. They should be able to talk. They should be able to tell us where they are. They have not made any report.
“They have not called the Navy neither have they called the Joint (Military) Task Force. The only report anybody has heard regarding the abduction is from the CNN and nobody can work with that.
“The company they are working with should be able to give us information. They cannot be working in Nigeria from America. At least, somebody should be able to tell us what happened.
“They could not have taken the vessel to creeks. The vessel is too big to be taken to the creeks. They did not say they kidnapped the vessel. They only said they kidnapped the captain and the chief engineer,” he said.
But, the Navy, Central Naval Command, said it had been combing the waters and creeks to locate the two American sailors.
Commanding Officer, Forward Operating Base, Brass, Capt. Aniedi Ibok, said the Navy was working round the clock to find the vessel that was conveying the Americans.
Ibok said: “We are still searching our waters to see if we can get the vessel since it was not reported to have been ‘kidnapped’.”
Information from The Nation was used in this report.