BY SAMUEL OYADONGHA
YENAGOA — A missing 28-year-old French national, Benjamin Élan, working on board a chemical vessel, was yesterday, rescued from the kidnappers’ den by operatives of the Joint Task Force code named Operation Pulo Shield in collaboration with youths of Amatu community of Bayelsa State in Ekeremor Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
Élan, the chief officer of the ship was among the missing 15 crew of the chemical tanker, Adour, was attacked by suspected pirates June 13, 2013, some 30 nautical miles off Lome, Togo.
The chemical tanker was said to have discharged the cargo of STS into the port and left when suspected pirates struck, took control of the ship and changed its course to Nigeria.
Vanguard reliably learnt that the chemical tanker is registered in Marseille, France and is owned and operated by the French company Sea Tankers Shipping.
The Commander of the JTF, Major General Bata Debiro, while presenting the rescued Chief Officer of the ship, Benjamin Élan, to newsmen and officials of the Bayelsa State government led by the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Markson Fefegha, in Yenagoa, said he was rescued at Amatu 1 in Ekeremor Local Government Area of the state.
Reliving his experience, Élan said his abductors were not violent but that he was kept in hiding for six days and was fed with bread and water.
He said as a worker aboard MT Adour he was taken as a shield by the pirates after a team of operatives of the Nigerian Navy and French Marines stormed the hijacked ship.
He said: “The Navy officers negotiated the release of other crew members but due to fear and poor visibility, the pirates held unto me to ensure that they escaped.”
In his remarks, the Bayelsa State Commissioner for Information, Fefegha, lauded efforts of officers of the Joint Task force for their proactive moves to stamp out criminality and theft along the waterways and creeks of Bayelsa State.