The arrest incident took place in 2015, when the Nigerian Navy arrested five Filipino and four Bangladeshi seafarers on their vessel, interrogated the captain and arrested the crew of smuggling the cargo, because of the lack of documentation on board.
Following, the crew was arraigned in Lagos and charged with illegal bunkering. In 2016, the seafarers were sentenced to a five-year imprisonment, and stayed in a prison in Lagos.
Although the Bangladeshi seafarers were freed and returned to their homes, being assisted by the Bangladeshi government and a number of international organisations, the Filipino ones had no support and remained in prison. The latter was abandoned by the ship owner and the manning agent.
During the Filipinos' stay in prison, ISWAN’s Regional Representative in Nigeria, Afusat Eke along with the President of Filipino community in Nigeria visited them, providing food, emotional support and medicine.
In the meantime, ISWAN’s SeafarerHelp team and Regional Director in the Philippines and South East Asia, Jun Pablo, contacted the Philippine Embassy, trade unions and other agencies to arrange further assistance for the seafarers. Back at home in the Philippines, Jun also supported the seafarers’ families through numerous visits and phone calls.
Finally, the seafarers were released to members of the Philippine Embassy, in July 2018, when they also returned to their home.
Overall, ISWAN is making great efforts in supporting seafarers in need, as the Network published a video with today's ISWAN Regional Director, India and South Asia, who was held captive by pirates in Somalian waters from May to December 2010, to alert on the situation and highlight the urgency of putting an end to piracy.