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Switzerland to pay Nigeria $14m to secure release of tanker, detained crew

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) has ordered Switzerland to post a bond worth USD14million with Nigeria in order to secure the release of a gas oil tanker and its crew that were arrested by the Nigerian Navy.

Nigeria’s Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice- Dayo Apata made this known during a press briefing which held at the Ministry’s Headquarters in Abuja on Tuesday.

On January 23, 2018, the Nigerian Navy arrested a Swiss-Flagged Vessel which was alleged to have “undertaken a ship to ship transfer of fuel oil right inside a platform within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Nigeria without the pre-requisite permits or authorization and at odd hours of the night, contrary to Navy regulations.”

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The vessel, crew members and cargo were subsequently handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for prosecution in Port Harcourt, River State.The Captain and three other crew members were subsequently released on bail. Under the bail conditions set by the Federal High Court, the Master and the three officers are not allowed to travel outside Nigeria without prior approval or order of the court.

In a bid to secure the release of oil vessel and its crew members, Switzerland had instituted a suit before a United Nations-affiliated International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, challenging Nigeria’s actions.

They also requested that ITLOS order the suspension of Nigeria’s criminal prosecution by the EFCC.

However, the tribunal in its July 6, 2019 order rejected Switzerland’s request for the suspension of the prosecution’’.

The tribunal also conditioned the release of the vessel and the criminal defendants, who are Ukrainian nationals, upon Switzerland’s posting of a bond or other financial security in the amount of $14 million.

In addition, Switzerland was ordered to ensure that the Master and the three officers of the ship are available and present at the criminal proceedings in Nigeria, according to the tribunal

 

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