Lebanon’s Ambassador in Abuja, Hossam Diab, informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday that the commercial ship, which went missing somewhere between Nigeria and Cameroon, had been hijacked.
According to the Ambassador, hijackers have released the ship and two sailors, while three Lebanese and five people of other nationalities are still among the hostages.
Caretaker Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Charbel Wehbe, held Tuesday a series of contacts in efforts to unveil the fate of the three Lebanese sailors who are currently being held against their will.
Within this context, Lebanon’s Ambassador to Nigeria Hossam Diab is also communicating with the Lebanese Consul in Cameroon.
According to the Voice of Lebanon radio station (93.3), the kidnappers have asked for a ransom. The exact amount has not been made public yet.
Up until now, details on how the kidnapping occurred remains unknown.
Kidnappings for ransom are common in Nigeria, but most have occurred in its oil-rich southern city Lagos, which is home to 17.5 million inhabitants. Lagos is considered a high-risk area for travelers, and it’s always advised for citizens to remain cautious on the streets and while driving.
However, the shipping industry has also warned in the past about the increasing dangers faced by seafarers sailing through the Gulf of Guinea, particularly around Nigeria.
That includes kidnappings by pirate gangs, dubbed as “The World’s Most Violent Pirates,” who have shifted away from stealing cargoes towards extracting ransom for crews.
Nigeria’s north has also started to see politically-motivated kidnappings that have been lasting for a prolonged period of time. Kidnappings there have been linked to Islamic extremist groups rather than criminal gangs.
According to Naharnet, Islamist extremist group Ansaru recently claimed to have executed seven foreign hostages, including two Lebanese.
Currently, the fate of the three Lebanese remain in the hands of the official authority and their willingness to pay off the ransom.