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Russian Firm Puzzled by Ship Arrest in Nigeria

RIA Novosti

20:08 23/10/2012 MOSCOW, October 23 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian ship seized by Nigerian authorities over the weekend had all necessary documentation for travel in Nigeria’s territorial waters and was not involved in any illegal activity, the owner said on Tuesday.

The Nigerian Navy earlier reported that the Myre Seadiver, owned by Russia’s Moran Security Group, was detained in the port of Lagos on Saturday on suspicion of arms smuggling. A cache of weaponry, including 14 Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles with about 5,000 rounds of ammunition, was discovered on board.

The ship has been moved to a nearby naval base. The 15 members of the crew, mostly Russians, remain on board awaiting further developments in the situation.

“We have not received any official explanation of the reason for the detention,” Deputy General Director of Moran Security Group, Vadim Gusev, told RIA Novosti. “Apparently, the Nigerian authorities cannot find a reason.”

The Myre Seadiver is an auxiliary vessel used to support maritime oil extraction and transport operations.

According to Gusev, the vessel has stopped in Lagos for resupply and repairs between missions in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Guinea. It carried an arsenal of weaponry to ensure protection from pirates who frequently attack ships along the Nigerian coast.

“We have submitted the list of all weaponry, ammunition, and people on board to Nigerian authorities through our ship agent at the port,” Gusev said, adding that copies of all documentation have been sent to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

The official said the vessel had been authorized to make a port call in Lagos three weeks before the arrival. However, two days prior to the planned departure the Nigerian authorities seized the ship, claiming that it was staying in Nigerian waters illegally.

Although that claim was later withdrawn, the vessel has not been allowed to leave the naval base near Lagos, the company official said.

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