The management of Morlap Shipping Company seeks the assistance of relevant authorities to unravel the mystery behind the loss of its ship for three days and the whereabouts of its crew
| By Pita Ochai | Mar. 25, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT
THE mystery surrounding the disappearance of MT Mor Prosperity, a vessel owned by Morlap shipping company Limited, and its recovery after three days, is yet to be unraveled. The vessel alleged to have been involved in the loading and discharging of suspected stolen dual purpose kerosene, DPK, without the knowledge of its owner, disappeared and could not be located on the high sea for three days. The vessel, now damaged, was later found at the creeks of the Niger-Delta with its crews still missing.
Morlap Shipping Company has requested for the full investigation of the incidence. According to Isaac Jolapamo, chief executive officer, Morlap Shipping Company Limited, the occurrence could not be attributed to a piratical attack but that somebody must have hijacked the ship for fraudulent purpose. Jolapamo urged the various Nigerian security agencies to investigate the incident.
He explained that MT Mor Prosperity, was on a short time charter to Ax-Energy Limited of 8th Floor, UBA House, 57, Marina, Lagos, to load 15000 metric tons AGO offshore Lagos for Lome discharge. At that time, Jolapamo said that he did not suspect any criminal motive because the cargo (i.e. AGO) to be loaded was deregulated coupled with the fact that the quantity could not be suspected as stolen product.
Jolapamo said he had managed to speak with the captain of the vessel, on January 21, this year through the Turaya phone with the charterers’ super cargo onboard. He said that the captain informed him that the vessel did not find the mother vessel at the position given on her voyage instruction. But instead of returning to Lagos anchorage, he went further at the charterer’s instruction to another location to receive DPK cargo from a ship whose identity was unknown. The name of the ship and its International Maritime Organisation, IMO, identity number was not disclosed. According to the captain of the vessel, the name of the ship was written in Arabic, which he could not read. After that explanation, the line went dead and all contact with the ship was lost for three days.
Morlap Shipping Company had contacted Benin and Togo Republic maritime authorities to help locate the vessel but to the surprise of its staff and management, Jubril Rowaye, a management staff of Brilla Energy, on January 24, called to inform the shipping company that the DPK cargo on-board the missing vessel was for his company. This new information confused the staff and management of Morlap shipping and immediately the company sent a request to the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, and the Nigerian Navy for assistance in locating the missing vessel.
“It was through the combined efforts of NIMASA, the Nigerian Navy, and the Nigerian Air force that the vessel was located and brought back to Lagos from where it was abandoned deep offshore Escravos after an extensive damage to the vessel and its equipments,” Jolapamo said. To him, the damages were to make the missing of the ship for some days appear like a piratical attack. He explained that the name and funnel markings of the ship were taken off for an unknown motive.
Jolapamo, who is also the president of the Indigenous Ship Owners’ Association of Nigeria, ISAN, has called on the law enforcement agency in the country to fully investigate the incidence to serve as a deterrent to people with criminal tendencies in the country. He is suspecting that the ship must have been used for some dubious activities within the period it was missing and damaged to give an impression that it must have been attacked by pirates.
The management of Ax-Energy Limited owned by Abdul Arisekola-Alao, who is also facing trial for his complicity in the subsidy scam, has refused to speak on the incidence. Every attempt to make the management also speak failed.