Swiss-flagged vessel, San Padre Pio, which was detained by Nigeria three years ago for suspected territorial waters violation and diesel smuggling, will soon be released, as Nigeria has reached an agreement with the Swiss government.
The Swiss foreign ministry, at the weekend, said the pact was signed between Nigeria’s Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and the Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria.
The boat was detained off Port Harcourt, Rivers State, in January 2018. The Swiss government has been trying to secure its release.
The European nation had appealed to an international court to order Nigeria to release the oil tanker.
Accusations against the captain and crew of the ship were denied, with the captain insisting that all the necessary permits were obtained.
The Swiss ministry, in a statement, clarified that a corresponding Memorandum of Understanding for the immediate release of the ship was struck last Thursday.
It stated that the agreement was reached following “considerable diplomatic efforts” by the foreign ministry, in cooperation with the economic and finance ministries.
The firm managing the vessel, Canton Vaud shipping company, ABC Maritime, said it successfully defended itself at a high court in Port Harcourt.
It added that the court ruled that the defendants were not guilty, hence were discharged and acquitted.
“It is now incumbent on Nigeria to release the vessel and on the companies involved to take the necessary operational measures for the actual departure of the vessel.
“Once the vessel has been able to leave Nigeria’s exclusive economic zone, the legal proceedings pending before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg can be terminated,” the ministry said.
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