A Russian ship carrying a cache of weapons, which was seized by Nigerian authorities over the weekend, was not involved in arms smuggling, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
“The Nigerian authorities have detained the ship for a routine check as the vessel carried a number of weapons and ammunition necessary to ensure security during its operations,” a ministry spokesman said.
“The Nigerian officials were promptly notified about the weapons on board through the ship’s agent in the port of Lagos, therefore any claims about an attempt to smuggle arms into the country are ungrounded,” he said.
The ship was carrying the arsenal of weaponry to ensure protection from pirates who frequently attack ships along the Nigerian coast, Deputy General Director of Moran Security Group, Vadim Gusev, said on Tuesday.
Russian diplomats in Nigeria have taken all the necessary steps to clarify the situation and will meet with officials from the Nigerian Navy on Wednesday to negotiate the release of the ship, the spokesman said.
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.
“Russian sailors on board the ship are in good health,” the spokesman said. “They have all necessary supplies as well as phone and internet links with Russia.”