By Biodun Busari

The Liberia Maritime Authority (LiMA) has pledged to investigate the incident in which the captain and other crew members of the Panama-flagged ship MV Ophelia reportedly killed two Nigerian stowaways.

Vanguard reported last week that some Asian crew cruising Panama’s vessel killed two Nigerians identified as Frank and Osas Velurobo after they were discovered on the ship.

About a dozen others were thrown into the ocean but escaped and were rescued by fishermen at Gbanken Beach, Grand Kru town, Liberia.

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The Nigerians boarded the ship illegally from Lagos, Nigeria which was believed to be sailing to Japan, but two met their demise as others were fortunate to be alive.

Reacting to the incident, Maritime Commissioner, Lenn Eugene Nagbe revealed that LiMA has instituted a panel to investigate the matter and will ensure that all criminals are brought to book.

Nagbe, according to Nigeria Abroad, on Saturday said Liberia Immigration Service is also working with LiMA to hasten the investigation.

He also said the agency has taken some measures of both national and international maritime standards on the incident.

The report listed the measures as: “transmitted a formal communication to the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization informing him of the incident. The communication is also soliciting the cooperation and support of IMO in the investigative process.

It has also “informed the Panamanian government through available diplomatic channels including a transmittal from Liberia IMO Permanent Representative, Moses Owen Browne to his Panamanian counterpart.”

It said Panama has the responsibility to ensure the enforcement of relevant international instruments being the flag state of the vessel.

While it has communicated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Liberia, it extended it to other regional bodies including the Nigerian government in Abuja to assist in apprehending the vessel.

“It also communicated with the ship owner and the agent to make representation and participate in discussions regarding arranging and financing the maintenance and repatriation of the stowaways,” the report added.

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