A merchant ship has been seized by some militants who are demanding freedom for the leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, within 31 days or they will blow up the ship.
There have been protests in the Southeast states for the revival of the defunct Biafra.
The hijacking of the ship is the latest attempt to compel the government to release the IPOB leader.
The ultimatum to the government was reportedly given at the weekend by a militant identified by the General Ben. Ben. “Some Niger Delta militants have shown interest in working with us,” said Uchena Madu, a leader of the Movement for the Actualization of a Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
The hijacking indicates the Biafran agitators could be working with some Niger Delta militants who recently bombed oil pipelines in the Niger Delta.
The Defence Headquarters yesterday confirmed the hijack of a merchant ship in the Niger Delta by some “criminals”.
Although it did not give the name of the ship, it said the ship is now in about 7.4 nautical miles off the coast of Nigeria.
It said Benin Republic Navy is guarding it.
The Acting Director of Defence Information, Brig-Gen. Rabe Abubakar, said yesterday: “We can confirm the hijack of a merchant ship but we don’t know who really hijacked it.
“We are suspecting that the ship was hijacked by some criminals and not militants.
“There is nothing like militants in the Niger Delta again since the Amnesty Programme was launched.
“The ship is not even within the waters of Nigeria. It is in about 7.4 nautical miles off the coast of this country.
“The Navy personnel in Benin Republic have been guarding the ship. We are collaborating with all our neighbours.”