By Moses Dautey a.k.a. Platoon Commander
Exercise Rescue Mission – a civil/security relations organization in Ghana, has expressed solidarity to the Governments of Ghana and South Korea as one and five citizens of the former and latter, respectively, remain abducted by pirates, since Wednesday, 24th June, 2020, whilst fishing in Beninoin waters, 80 Nautical Miles south of the sprawling Nigerian cosmopolis city of Lagos, after which there has not been any contact with the abductors or abductees.
The abducted are Captain Park Ki Ha, Lee Sang Chun, Park Sang Gwan, Jeong Sang Cheol, Ji Jong Jae and Kofi Opuni.
Exercise Rescue Mission, in a message dated 1st July 2020 and signed by the mission’s National Coordinator, Moses Kwesi Dautey, expressed its morale support to the security agencies in the subregion and the world at large, who are involved in the search, locate and rescue of the captives.
The solidarity message, also appealed to the pirates to consider coming out with their conditions, to enable the authorities to advance possible negotiation for their release.
It is revealing that the pirates who struck Fishing Vessel (FV) PANOFI FRONTIER last week, targeted only the Korean crew onboard, but later decided to include the Ghanaian cook, to provide meals whilst they remained in captivity.
This information came out during investigation into the incident by the Ghana’s security agencies.
The Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) Rear Admiral (R/Adm) Seth Amoama, speaking to this reporter stated that events of the about ten (10) minutes attack by the pirates who were described by brains highly professional, alluded to the conclusion of their choices of captives.
R/Adm Amoama reiterated the Ghanaian Naval cooperation with other world Navies and said that two languages spoken by the pirates, Yoruba and Pidgin English and the eastward direction they navigated with the hostages in their getaway high speeding skiff, suggested where they had come from.
According to him, FV PANOFI FRONTIER, on the 1st of June 2020, sailed eastward from Takoradi and eventually found fertile tuna fishing ground in the Beninoin waters.
After sometime, a lookout (look look) sighted two speed boats some nautical miles away and prompted the Captain, but a second opinion ruled them out as speed boats.
Later one these boats pursued FV PANOFI FRONTIER for over an hour before closing in on her, hence the skipper of the fishing vessel, upon sensing danger, ordered the crew members to enter their cabins, which they did.
A number of gunshots were heard from undisclosed directions at the rear of the boat, and at least, four armed bandits used the step ladder to gain access onboard, at same time, two other men, an armed guard to ward off any potential threat and the motor man, remained in the speed boat.
The Master of the vessel was manhandled whilst the remaining crew were made to lie facing the deck, whiles those on the ground were thoroughly searched, left with a bag and polythene, which contents were not disclosed, they obtained from the Captain’s Bridge and together with the five Koreans, entered the standby skiff.
The pirates enquired about the cook for the foreigners and when Kofi Opuni was identified, he was forced to join the hostages to go and prepare their Asian meals.
investigations are that, earlier when the four armed men climbed onboard, they ordered the Ghanaian crew members not to place impediments in their way since their objective was not them.
Less than two hours after the incident, the Beninoin Navy went to their aid and escorted her to the Togolese waters where a sister vessel, FV SANKOFA, accompanied till the Ghanaian gunboat – GNS GARINGA, contacted and navigated to the Tema Port breakwaters.
On Friday, June 26th, the Naval Intelligence led security teams drawn from the Marine Police/Crime Scene Management from the Headquarters of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), for ballistic analysis if any shots were fired onboard and which direction, Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) Security, Defence Intelligence (DI), Bureau of National Investigation (BNI) and the National Security, to embark on a full scale inquisition.
Meanwhile a dependable source close to the owners of the vessel, Panofi Fisheries Ltd, intimated to this reporter that there has since been no information as to demands from the pirates, and since that is normally the ultimate, their ears are widely opened to go into whatever negotiation they would bring along.