Pinoy seaman abducted in Nigeria

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — A FILIPINO seaman was among 10 workers abducted in Bayelsa State, Nigeria, last Friday, marking the fourth time that a Filipino has been kidnapped in the oil-rich country, Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

The Filipino was abducted along with four Britons, three Americans, one South African and one Nigerian, the department said in a statement, quoting a report by Ambassador to Nigeria Masaranga Umpa.

It said the abduction took place around 7 p.m. on May 25, when armed men ferried by several boats attacked the offshore construction barge where the 10 men had been working.

“The new information rectifies a previous report relayed to the [department] , where the Filipino seaman was earlier mistakenly identified to be an Indian national,” the department said.

It said officials were now coordinating with the Nigerian government to secure the quick release of the Filipino and the other hostages.

“This new abduction underlines the perilous situation that confronts Filipino workers in some countries,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo said.

“It is for their own interest, therefore, that we ask our people to respect the deployment ban and abide by the restrictions on travel to Nigeria as well as Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon,” he said.

On Sunday, officials were relieved on receiving a report that no Filipino was among the workers kidnapped Friday in Bayelsa State.

The report said the armed men exchanged fire with security guards on the construction barge, and then seized the workers from a pipe-laying vessel.

On May 3, a militant group abducted eight Filipinos and three Koreans in Nigeria, but released them on May 9 after negotiations.

The workers were seized from their barracks at a power plant in Port Harcourt, and they were seized at a time when the Philippine government was considering lifting its ban on the sending of Filipino workers to Nigeria.

In January, Nigerian armed men kidnapped 24 Filipino seafarers from their ship and a Filipino engineer who was on his way to the airport.