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Two Nigerians Charged In UK Court Over Attempt To Hijack Oil Tanker

Okorie, 25 and Sylvester, 22, were alleged to have endangered the Nave Andromeda with both appearing at Southampton Magistrates’ Court on Saturday.

Two Nigerian men, Matthew Okorie and Sunday Sylvester, have been charged to court over alleged attempts to hijack an oil tanker in the English Channel in the UK.

Okorie, 25 and Sylvester, 22, were alleged to have endangered the Nave Andromeda with both appearing at Southampton Magistrates’ Court on Saturday.

They were part of a group of seven Nigerian men who were arrested after being discovered on board the huge oil tanker on October 25.

The ship, which was travelling from Lagos, Nigeria, was close to reaching its destination of Southampton, Hampshire before the boat’s captain put out a mayday call following the discovery of stowaways.

Both men have been charged with an offence relating to conduct endangering ships under section 58 Merchant Shipping Act 1995, and will appear at a crown court in January.

The five other men – who were arrested on suspicion of seizing or exercising control of a ship by use of threats or force – remain on police bail.

Following a tense 10-hour stand-off, commandos from the Special Boat Service (SBS) had reportedly stormed the 42,000-tonne ship and re-claimed it.

A Hampshire Constabulary spokesperson said: “Two men have been charged and appeared in court today (December 26) as part of the ongoing Hampshire Constabulary led investigation into the maritime security incident that took place on board the Nave Andromeda.

“The two men, Matthew John Okorie, 25 and Sunday Sylvester, 22, have been charged with an offence relating to conduct endangering ships under section 58 Merchant Shipping Act 1995.

“They appeared before Southampton Magistrates’ Court this morning and have been remanded in custody. They will next appear at Southampton Crown Court on January 29, 2021.

“Five other men, who were arrested on suspicion of seizing or exercising control of a ship by use of threats or force, remain on police bail until January 25, 2021 whilst Hampshire Constabulary’s investigation continues.

“They are currently detained under Border Force powers.”

READ ALSO: Nigerian Arrested In India For Possession Of Cocaine

It was originally suggested that the tanker had been hijacked, but lawyers representing the owners of the vessel said the incident was ‘100 per cent not a hijacking’.

Crew members sought shelter in a safe room on the Liberian-registered oil tanker before the Special Boat Service landed 16 personnel aboard the vessel via air and sea following a ten-hour standoff. 

Hampshire police later said all 22 crew members of the tanker were safe.

Violence started when crew members found the stowaways and tried to lock them in a cabin prior to handing them to the Border Force at Southampton.

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